Sixty-nine years have gone by since I first met the Devil Dog. He was a fresh-faced kid on that hot July day in 1942, and kind of a smart-aleck, too. So, when the drill instructor gave me orders to be this new US Marine recruit’s protection from Mother Nature’s sting, I knew I was in for a wild ride. The excitement began shortly after leaving Parris Island, SC for our assignment in Jacksonville, FL at Aviation Machinist Mate School. Yep, an olive drab scratchy wool blanket in Florida, but I had my orders. Devil Dog must have learned his way around F4U Corsairs quite well. You see, some time later while stationed on Emirau Island in the South Pacific, he was assigned as Colonel Charles Lindbergh’s line mechanic. Oorah!
Now, a lot of globetrotting had to be done by land, air, and sea before arriving at that tropical land mass along the equator; passing through Cherry Point, NC, Galeta, CA, San Diego, CA, Hawaii, Samoa, Guadalcanal, and more. Yes, I know, a wool blanket in the tropics, but I had my orders. Semper Fi!
We saw some interesting sights along the way, giving us pleasant and even humorous memories, and some haunting ones that continue to hang around to this day. But, it is the memory of coming home to Vestal Center, NY and meeting Lovely that is the most precious, and the beginning of the best ride of my life.
It was Christmas 1947 and Devil Dog decided to join the local church in Christmas Caroling through the neighborhood. After spending the last few years in warmer climates, he was more than happy I tagged along. You see, the temperature that evening was five degrees below zero and we were huddled in the back of a stake body truck with only loose hay to keep us warm. Woohoo! Finally, my chance to carry out my duties after six years had arrived and was kind of exciting. However, I didn’t know how exciting until I saw Lovely sitting across the way. Devil Dog was watching her; in fact, he had been keeping an eye on her throughout the entire frigid night. Realizing she must have been as cold as he was, Devil Dog worked up the nerve to ask Lovely, “Would you like to share my blanket?” Wow, what a line! I held my breath waiting for her answer. What if she refuses? If she does, will he turn me over to her? I have my orders. But wait, she is kinda cute.
Well, Lovely’s answer led to a sixty-three year adventure involving six children and numerous grand/great-grandchildren. You see, Devil Dog and Lovely were married on December 24, 1948. Over the years, I have heard Devil Dog say, “To me a woman is someone special. This may sound corny, but after all my travels and having observed the beauty that is of God, nothing He has made is more beautiful than a woman. A woman can buy and use many things to make herself look beautiful, but to me that doesn’t make her look lovely. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary describes lovely as beautiful, morally and spiritually attractive, and enjoyable.” Hmmm… Makes me think of Proverbs 31. Hmmm… Devil Dog , you are right; Mrs. Devil Dog is Lovely.