Friday, August 22, 2008

How I Met The Love Of My Life

Otto up a tree with a
sack of salamanders.

My best friend, Ba, and I sat across from one another in a booth of The Cellar, a favorite meeting place on the Stanford campus. As we sipped chocolate cokes from The Cellar fountain and waited for our sandwiches, she caught me up on the events of the last two weeks. While I had been away on vacation between summer and autumn quarters of 1939, she had become friends with Bill Johnson, a very nice graduate student of electrical engineering. He had been meeting her here almost every day at lunchtime. She had barely finished telling me this when Bill appeared, accompanied by another student.

“This is Otto Smith,” Bill and Ba chorused, hardly taking their eyes off each other as Bill slid into the booth beside Ba. Which left Otto to slide in beside me.

This is the bare tale of how I met my future husband. But was it love at first sight? Not by a long shot! We made pleasant conversation, established that I was majoring in art and that Otto was a graduate student of electrical engineering and an assistant at the Ryan High-Voltage Laboratory.

During the autumn quarter, a sort of loose alliance formed among five or so electrical engineering students and Ba’s and my best friends. It had started largely because of Bill’s and Ba’s growing infatuation. None of the rest of us paired off (yet), but we went on picnics and hikes together, riding in Bill’s already antique Hudson named Bessie, or Bill Brennner’s equally ancient car. I think I sat with Otto in the rumble seat of the latter on one of our excursions.

During Christmas break, the YMCA and YWCA planned a folk-dancing party at the Duveneck’s ranch in the foothills of the Coast Range. The Duvenecks generously shared their property with many worthwhile organizations. Their beautiful home, where the party was to be held, was set among tall redwoods.

Bill and Ba offered me a ride to the party in Bessie, which I accepted happily, as I had no wheels of my own. When they arrived I was surprised to see Otto was sitting in the back seat, since I knew that Margaret was planning to go with him. But then I thought that we would also go to pick her up too.

But no. The car wound its way through the foothills, and Otto held my hand. Lights streamed from the ballroom of the Spanish style house and music had already started when we arrived. To me, happiness is a fast polka or schottishe, and Otto apparently agreed. We danced. And danced. We became so hot from the exercise that cups of punch no longer sufficed, and we escaped through the French doors into the damp coolness of a foggy night, with fog drifting among the huge trunks of the redwoods and a carpet of soft needles underfoot. We held hands and drifted downhill, and suddenly I felt like a bird about to fly. That was the beginning of my falling in love with Otto.

And I’m still in love with him sixty-nine years later.

Otto Smith, the love of my life

P.S. Ba and Bill wed not long after, and lived many happy years together until Bill’s death. Otto and I were guests at Ba’s 90th birthday party last December.

36 comments:

Lucy said...

Granny! What a perfectly sweet tale of true love! And to think, SIXTY-NINE YEARS later and he is STILL the love of your life??? SO rare, So very special and inspiring!
We celebrate 28 this fall, and I really hope we can continue to share our love as long as you and Otto have.
With so many marriages falling apart, YOU and OTTo could make a fortune writing a book with your true and tried marital advice! xo

Linda Jacobs said...

I love the descriptions at the end of the fog and the redwoods and that bird flying away! A nice, old-fashioned love story!

latree said...

this is so sweet granny.
and you are great to stay with him till the end.
wish that for me and my husband, will you?

The Countess said...

Granny, you remind me of my granny.

I miss her.. Bless her soul. Those times with Otto are truly worth treasuring! I wish marriages nowadays were like that.

RE The Usual:

That's cute! The world is really a small place to have coincidences like that!

Mine was no fiction, but I filed it under Flash Fictions because it was posted through prompts. This was a good meme, 'twas filed under FF nonetheless. Thanks for taking the time to read!

Beth said...

The stories you tell and your writing is a continuing inspiration. And what a great photo, filled with life and love. May you have many more years together as rich and full as what has gone before.

Laini Taylor said...

Oh, I love this. I'm a little choked up. I love your life, Granny. Blessings for more wonderful years.
:-)

anthonynorth said...

A wonderful post! I'm still a junior here, happily married for 31 years. But you're a true inspiration.

Giggles said...

This beautiful love story touched me so much! Your dear husband is still a very attractive pleasant man! He seems very happy too! You are one of the lucky ones! I just heard a couple of young men put out a book about lengthy marriages. They interviewed many types such as yourself chronicling long term marriages, to share the secrets of a successful marriage!

Thanks for sharing this lovely post!

Hugs Giggles

Random Train Of Thought said...

Granny

I agree it's a heart warming story. But the guy in me kicked in, and I have to ask. Why is Otto in a tree with a bag of salamanders?

Marianne said...

What a sweet and touching story, loved every word of it.
I personally find it 'better' when friendships are established first, nice long friendships :^)
Thank you for sharing, I always love hearing about your life.

Rinkly Rimes said...

I think Otto looks a real dish! I wish I'd got there first!

Rinkly Rimes said...

I think Otto looks a real dish! I wish I'd got there first!

AscenderRisesAbove said...

I go to stanford all the time; the next time I go and see those trees at the entrance I will think of you and this poem

murat11 said...

Granny Smith: The radiance of your love for Otto the Salamander King certainly shines through this beauty.

Vesper de Vil said...

this is so sweet! thanks for sharing!

alister said...

Oh so romantic—the punch no longer sufficing, the escape, the fog and the flying, and the love still there. A joy to read and a proof of fairy tales :-)

missalister

keith hillman said...

What can I say? That was such a beautiful love story. You are both truly blessed.

present said...

i love how you describe falling in love as a bird about to fly.
i imagine a feeling of lift, of lightness, of freedom, of togetherness.

Lesley said...

How lovely and lucky you both are to find a love that sustains you, entertains you and gives you joy!

Beautiful Witch said...

Oh Granny, that definitely isn't stomach turning! It helps that your comment to my posting details the way you and Otto fight about how to look up something on the web... You're both very cute and how wonderful to have so many incredible years together. Some people are truly meant to be.

anno said...

It's good to read about a love story that has lasted. The pictures are wonderful, too.

Last year, I interviewed someone who worked for the Redwoods National Forest. He claimed that the canopy of the Redwoods was a world unto itself, a place where small trees and other plants grew, a place where the spongy canopy soil made a good home for small amphibians, like salamanders!

It was a detail that enchanted me at the time, and seeing this picture of Otto with his sack of salamanders in a tree reminded me of it. Thanks!

Playitsam said...

How lovely! You always have something wonderful to say. You're my inspiration!

Jennifer Hicks said...

what a wonderful story of the building of a strong foundation for a lifetime of love!

Terrie said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog. I pray that I will be able to write as well as you someday.
You are an inspiration.

DJPare said...

The stories of your life always amaze me, especially because of the way you tell them. I always look forward to the posts you make so personal!

Vicki G. said...

This is the most beautiful story. Be sure to post about your 70th Anniversary. What an amazing accomplishment!

linda may said...

Congratulations Granny on finding the love of your life. 69 years wow. It is 28 for us this year I think. Keep on going strong. Otto looks lovely.

Portals Unknown said...

this was so beautiful and so touching! Thank you for sharing this and I wish you many more happy years!!!
I poked around a bit and I love your blog!

SmallWorld at Home said...

So, so beautiful. What a blessed life you have had.

Shyam said...

He's soooooo good looking! Gorgeous smile, just like yours. You make a lovely couple :)

Beth said...

Good morning, Granny. Just popping back to say thank you for helping to create such a warm and welcoming online presence. Your creativity, personal warmth, and writing gifts make such a relationship appear seamless, and so it is -- an inspiration to us all. How wonderful to have a life companion who is truly balances out and enriches your life. For every moment of joy, I also see hard work, sometimes difficult conversations, and yet, together with joy after so many years is a testament to your commitment and intgegrity. Bravo!

Nydia said...

How sweet and lovely is your love story, Granny! And how hapy I get to kow that you're still happily married to your handsome man until now - how rare is that! Loved the details, I could almost see the scenes... Love is such a pefect thing.

Thaks for sharing this!

Kisses from Nydia.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

OH!!! What a wonderful, wonderful moment you have shared!

I'll be married 30 years this November and my husband is still the love of my life. Someday I should write about how we met. : D

So glad that you are still together and still in love.

onangelwings said...

I loved reading this post. I wish my family would blog. Damn how lucky your family is to have such a wonderful legacy.

How sweet that you still call him the love of your life 69 years later.

me ann my camera said...

I mellowed right into your story as I read and fell in love with the beauty of it.

Inland Empire Girl said...

I loved reading this story. I loved the part about going out into the cool, foggy air after dancing and dancing. The picture at the top of the post is priceless also.