Times were hard in the early summer of 1940. My mother-in-law, Geneva, told us various stories about the hardships, but the one I remember most was her working in the cotton fields from sun up to sun down to earn twenty-five cents. It was just enough money to buy two and a half yards of material to make a dress.
Back then, few young men and women had money to spend on fancy weddings. Geneva’s best friend from high school, Berta, and her husband, Herman Prater, had married two weeks before at a gas station in a nearby small town. On June 20, 1940, Geneva and her boyfriend, Thurston LaRoque, decided they would marry. Their good friends, Herman and Berta, would be their attendants.
So they drove into Cisco, Texas in Herman’s 1936 Ford Coupe, all four packed in like sardines. The two women rode in the front seat with Herman, and Thurston rode curled up on his side in the small raised space, called the package tray, behind the seat. It was so crowded, Herman reached over to put his hand on Berta’s leg, and Geneva said, “Herman, that’s my leg, not Berta’s.”
When they arrived at the gas station, Thurston took Geneva’s seat and sat her on his lap while the preacher/gas station owner married them. They were unable to take any pictures, as cameras and film were expensive. But, the memory was kept alive through the years by sharing it with kids and grand kids alike.
Geneva and Thurston settled in Brown County in the small town of May, Texas. They had two sons, Larry and Steve. Herman and Berta moved from the area and later settled in Colorado. The two couples kept in touch over the years. Unfortunately the Prater’s were unable to have children but had several nieces, nephews, and cousins to shower with love. In the late 1980’s they moved back to Texas.
Thurston’s health began to fail in the 1980’s and when he worsened in the spring of 1990, Herman visited him in the hospital. Thurston passed away in April of 1990. In December of 1990, Berta passed away and Geneva attended her funeral.
The following year, Herman and Geneva started spending time together. Though neither were dancers, they enjoyed visiting musicals in the area to listen and tap their toes. On September 18, 1992 they married at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood, Texas with Geneva’s oldest son, Larry, their only attendant.
Geneva and Herman feel so fortunate to have loved, and been loved deeply, twice in their lifetimes. Geneva’s children and their families have been doubly blessed to have had two wonderful men in their lives to love. And Herman showers them with love in return and is happy to have them in his life. At least that’s what he tells us. And after one of his bear hugs, we believe him.
Since this story was written, both Herman and Geneva have passed on. They are truly missed by so many. I'm posting this memory of two young couples who later became one old couple in honor of Thurston, Geneva, Herman and Berta. It's a reminder that live is a journey--live it to it's fullest.
Happy Reading and Writing!