The Initial Meeting
I met Larry when I was fifteen. Our family had moved beyond the edge of any reason, to Nebraska. My Mother never forgave my father for moving us to “the Wasteland”. I was firmly convinced that I was locked in a birdcage and that my Father had completely lost his mind. The town was built into a perfect square, twelve blocks north and south and about the same number east and west. North and south the blocks were numbered, east and west the majority were named after trees and presidents. The fact that I could walk twelve blocks in a matter of minutes and leave town was horrifying to me.
My newly acquired residence in 1972, had a teen hangout called the Lil’ Duffer. It was a burger joint on the corner of Main and 7th Street, about the center of this small farming community with its one claim to fame, a small state college where my father would be gainfully employed for the next 25 years. All the cool kids or kids who thought they were cool or wanted to be cool hung out there. It was obvious by all the cars, the girls sitting on cars, a few guys with their heads under their hoods and grease on their hands, trying to fix their newly acquired $300.00 gas burner or just trying show it off, that this was the place to be. I kept expecting James Dean to walk over and say hello.
The burger place reminded me of a very ugly barn. On this fine late summer day I was walking around town, a habit that seem to help me maintain some sort of sanity. It was fairly warm so I thought I’d buy a root beer, still my favorite form of carbonated beverage, and then I saw him, Larry that is, all decked out in his Army uniform. He was gorgeous, scathingly so. He was surrounded by a lot of young people, mostly teenage girls and a few guys a bit younger than him.
Everthing seemed fairly peaceful when all of a sudden two guys started giving Larry a lot of crap about serving in Viet Nam. You know, “baby killer” types of things and Larry didn’t seem to be taking it very well and soon left. I don’t think my eyes left him at all. It was love at first sight and I was just fifteen and jail bait as far as he was concerned. But, he wasn’t concerned at all because he didn’t know I even existed, but I didn’t care.
Several days later I was again, walking in circles or rather squares around town. Some of the trees looked like they were already beginning to change color and the air seemed a bit brisk for August although it was only eight in the morning. I couldn’t sleep, which was very unusual for me being the night owl that I am. We had been living in the college apartments but my parents had recently bought a house on 8th and Lincoln, near the center of town and near the city park. I was very happy with the house they had chosen. It was about 100 years old, had amazing woodwork, a nice stairway and fireplace. It had character and personality.
I was walking slowly and thought I would stop in the park before heading toward my new home. My Mother wanted me to meet her there to help paint and decorate before the new furniture arrived. In the park, which was really nice and large for the size of the community, I headed for the swings. I loved to swing. There was something calming and soothing about it. I had on a heavy cream colored sweater, jean shorts and a stocking hat or beanie as they are called today. Also, in the park was a pavilion or stage area for concerts and plays, although it was rarely used for such events. As I jumped out of the swing I walked toward the pavilion and saw someone who looked familiar. As I got closer I realized it was the same guy that I saw at the burger joint. My heart stopped beating for a full minute – I was positive I was dreaming. He smiled at me and said, “Hi”. I said hello back to him and he asked where I was from.
“Missouri, you mean?” he replied.
“Yea. Missoura,” I stated with a blush.
“Love your accent. What’s your name?”
“Kathleen but my friends call me Maggie”
“Hi, I’m Larry. What are you doing here this early in the morning?”
I explained that we just moved to the area. We talked a little more about I don’t know what because I just kept staring at him. He must have thought that I had something wrong with me but I think I responded to whatever he was saying. At one point he pulled out a harmonica and started playing a little. At some point I found myself sitting next to him, very close to him. He smelled earthy. I was hoping he would kiss me but by that time he knew I was jailbait.
Then it all came out. I told him for some strange, bazaar reason,
“I’m gonna marry you when I grow up.”
The fateful words of a young teen infatuated by a 20 year old man, on leave from Viet Nam.
He chuckled but didn’t laugh or make fun of me. He was kind and said, “Oh, really, you think so?”
“Yes” I replied without a doubt in my mind. Then I explained that it just had to be, other wise there was no reason why we should meet like this, in a strange park, in a strange town, in the middle of nowhere, early in the morning. His reply was what I needed to hear. He said with an extremely cute smile, “Well, Maggie or Kathleen, I really prefer Kathleen, it could happen.”
I smiled in agreement and then he said he had to leave and I knew my Mother was waiting for me. I think I must have floated toward my new home.
Larry was everything I had dreamed of in a man, as far as a fifteen year old can dream of marriage and romance – and as far as looks were concerned. He was about six feet tall with very dark brown hair, a dark complexion and with deep blue eyes. He had cute dimples and a strong jaw line and chin. Broad shoulders and strong arms filled out his tee shirt. His cigarette pack was rolled up in his t-shirt sleeve, reminiscent of the early 1960’s, kind of the James Dean chiseled look. In fact, he had that look down perfectly.
I didn’t see Larry again until I was eighteen years old and then only briefly.
January 1975: The Second meeting.
I saw Larry at a party in Lincoln. He was getting divorced, I was getting married. He thought I was cute and I thought he was scary, but for some reason I could not get him out of my mind. In fact, I dreamt about him. I don’t mean errotic dreams or romantic dreams but I would have dreams about him from time to time and in the dreams he was always walking towards me but I could not reach him. It was very strange and unnerving at times.
Summer 1982: The Third meeting.
I had just moved back to Nebraska from Sacramento and saw him at a birthday party at a tiny bar in a tiny town called Pilger. I was getting divorced. He was living in Washington state. We talked all night about I dont’ know what and yes, marriage came up – we were both frightened by the thought.
The evening was very platonic except that he would hold my hand and we would entertwine our fingers together. I loved his huge hands with long fingers. We said we would write but didn’t. Well, actually I did write him, I just never mailed it.
April 1984: The Fourth and Final Meeting.
A week after Easter my life changed forever for the better. I just didn’t know it yet.
I was in school, the single Mom of a three year old daughter and majorly confused. I had dated around but had not met “Mr. Right”. I was spending too much time in the local bars with my girlfriends and not enough time studying. My life was going nowhere. The only thing that kept me somewhat grounded was my daughter Timoni. She was my everything.
My sister Shannon was a very strong Christian and constantly prayed for me and was also a good listener, although I admit her “religiousness” would get on my nerves. Plus she did things that really angered me. For example, she threw away all my witchcraft books (I was heavily into things of the occult), threw away many of my hard rock albums and at times lectured me but she was always there if I needed to talk.
One night I told her that I really wanted to be married, but that marriage and me – we didn’t seem to mesh. She said to pray for the kind of man you want because God knows the desires of our hearts. Well, I wasn’t much into praying during that time of my life but I did anyway. She also suggested I write down what kind of husband and father I wanted, so I did and I prayed over that list every night. I also snuck in a nightly prayer asking God to help me be a good person. I really felt like I was a horrid person and I just wanted to be “good”. And I really wanted to be a good Mother.
I had also been having some strange encounters. For example, I was driving to another town with some friends and hit black ice and spun and ended up in a snowy ditch. There was no one in sight. I just sat there and said a tiny, tiny prayer of thanks and then a tiny, tiny prayer calling for help. All of a sudden a man in a red pickup truck comes driving by, stops and says, “do you need some help, mam?” or some such thing, I think. I said yes and he proceeded to pull my car out. Now, this will sound bizarre but he left no tracks, no foot prints, no tire tracks. I tried to tell the other people in the car but it was like they couldn’t hear me. I was shaking so bad when we got to the dance club that I told them I had to go home and I just left them, drove home and called my sister. Shannon very non-chalantly informed me that it was “an Angel”. An Angel? Anyway, things like this continued and on Easter Sunday I gave my life to the Lord.
Larry also gave his life to the Lord on Easter Sunday in a church on Whidbey Island, Washington. Larry was a hippie-biker-treeplanter… After he got out of the Army he headed west. He had been married for a year but she divorced him for some Hell’s Angel. Larry lived in a cabin he built on the back of a ’49 flatbed truck. It was actually rather cute, chimney and all. He also lived in a teepee and in a commune. He built houses, planted trees, picked apples, salmon fished, etc. whenever he needed money, then he would head back up to the mountains to hide out for awhile.
In the spring of 1984, Larry ended up back on Whidbey Island and went to a house where some Hell’s Angel friends lived but instead met some “Hippie-Jesus Freaks”, who led him to the Lord. They are friends to this day. The next day he got a phone call that his Grandmother was dying. He had no money but they told him the Lord would provide. The following day he got a tax refund check, bought a plane ticket and flew to Nebraska. He got to speak with his Grandmother before she died.
Since I was a brand new Christian I didn’t know how to act but I was drinking water in a local bar when some guy walked up and said that some guy was looking for me. I said, “Oh”. Then this hippie guy walked up and said, “Do you remember me?” I said that I did but I must admit he looked awful. He had on bell bottom pants. I mean, no one in 1982 wore bell bottoms. He looked like he just walked out of a 1968 Anti Vietnam War demonstration. You know, straight out of a Kent State line up… Can’t you hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young singing, “Four dead in O-hi-o…”.
But, there was something about his eyes. He was just so darn sweet with his beard almost down to his naval, his hair braided almost down to his waist and there I was looking so cute and 1980′s, you know, kind of disco-ee.
He asked me to dinner for the following night and I said yes. We drove to his parents farm so he could clean up and when I realized we were alone I immediately called my sister and told her that if I wasn’t home by midnight to call the house or police or national guard. He cleaned up and came into the living room and I decided to be very, very bold.
I told him that under no condition what-so-ever was he going to get me into the sack (I actually said something else) and that I was a “born again Christian”, (not that I really understood what that meant). All of a sudden he started jumping up and down and was so excited. I really became a bit alarmed but then he stated that he had just given his life to the Lord on Easter as well. We talked until 2 a.m., never ate dinner (and yes my sister did call to check up on me). He even played the guitar and sang me a song and I thought it was so super romantic. I was hooked but extremely puzzled. We were inseparable after that although I felt like I was living on pins and needles. A few days later his Dad told him he was retiring and moving to town and that Larry could move to the the farm.
My parents thought I had completely lost my mind. They were right. I think only my sister Shannon truly understood that Holy Spirit was running this show. This was an arranged marriage and Larry and I had little say so.
We just knew we were getting married. Everything just fell into place but he did propose formally, sort of. He bought a bottle of champagne, got two plastic champagne glasses and proposed. The ring at the top of the bottle was my engagement ring. I still have it. We did go and buy matching gold bands the next day.
We married June 16, 1984, at 7 p.m., (approximately five weeks later) under a triple rainbow in the backyard of his parents new home.