Posted by: abbiewatters | August 10, 2011

Big Al and Me

How did you meet your spouse? What did you like about him? – Boy, these people really know how to hit me with loaded questions! I first met Big Al in Texarkana at Sunday School at the First Presbyterian Church of Texarkana, Arkansas, during the summer between my first and second years at Texarkana College. I thought he was extremely objectionable and he says he didn’t think too highly of me, either. He was going through a time when he was anti-church. Don’t ask me what he was doing coming to Sunday School, because he argued with the teacher, and generally made a pest out of himself. He was in the Air Force and stationed at the AC&W site, and I guess he was lonesome for some “nice” girls, and generally wanted to get away from the base. He came to Sunday School for about a month, and then he disappeared, and I didn’t think anything more about him.

But then he turned up at the College Church Fellowship in the fall. All the Presbyterian churches in town had their college-aged kids meet at the same time. He had decided he didn’t like the Arkansas-side church because we were PC-US (the southern church) and he was used to PC-USA (the northern church). Those were the days before reunion. I also think he liked a girl that went to Main Street Presbyterian Church on the Texas side of town. Anyway, sometime in October, the group was having a hayride and social, and I didn’t have a date, and somebody suggested that he take me. He never really got around to asking me, and I wasn’t thinking about turning up there without a date, so the evening for the hayride came, and I suddenly got this phone call from him saying, “I thought you were coming to the hayride…” I said, “Well, I didn’t have a ride…” and he said, “I’ll come pick you up,” and the rest, as they say, is history.

From that time on, he started picking me up to take me to Fellowship on Sunday evenings, and then, he started asking me to go to the movies with him. At Christmas, he gave me his Class Ring (yes, we started going “steady”). In the spring semester, we both took evening courses at the college (I was still going during the day as well) and he would pick me up and take me to class most nights.

How and when did you get engaged? – The college choir went on tour for a week, singing around Texas as a recruitment tool for the college. He claimed to have really missed me while I was gone, although other than “going steady” we hadn’t talked about anything else. At this time I was still thinking I would transfer to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville when I finished at Texarkana College, and I took a weekend trip to look at the campus. He picked me up from the bus when I got back and presented me with an engagement ring! I guess the idea that I might not be around after the summer really got to him.

Here’s my engagement picture.

That summer my parents came to Texarkana, and his parents drove down to see him at the same time. He talked me into visiting Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, and his parents drove us down there to look at the campus. I transferred down there with him in September.

When did you get married? – We married on June 11, 1965.

How old were you? – I was 20, and Al was 24.

My wedding portrait.

Where did you get married? – We were married by Orville Austin in the Presbyterian Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania – an area of Philadelphia. The church is abandoned now, and the area is totally a slum. I would be afraid to even drive through there.

Here I am walking down the aisle.

Here we are cutting the cake.

What was your wedding like? – It was very small. We had the reception in the Fellowship Hall (basement) of the church. That’s Orville talking to Mama and one of her friends who had driven down from Westfield to attend the wedding.

And here we are leaving the church. Orville’s daughter, Maryjane, played the organ and her husband was the photographer. (That’s Maryjane in the yellow). They took us downtown to the hotel for our Wedding Night. Al’s father had given her $25 for playing the organ and she didn’t want to accept it from him, so she and her husband, and Al and I went out to dinner on it.



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