As a child, you never think of the adults around you as children, or teens, or young people at all. Or lovers!
But they were.
Mother and Hazel have been neighbors since August 1, 1959.
They were both married to their respective husbands for over 70 years.
They’ve been good friends and good neighbors.
They’re not Spring Chickens these days; both of them are in their 90s.
But they weren’t always Senior Citizens.
When I go back to Germantown to visit, I always walk across the street and catch UP with Hazel.
It’s funny, we’ve always called her that, she insisted. It wasn’t Mrs. Slone, she’d have none of that, and even though her husband was our elementary school principal, we called her Hazel.
The last time I was UP there, I noticed a picture on the TV. I’d never seen the picture before, and asked, “Is that you and Mr. Slone?”
She grinned her big smile, a wonderful one, and said,”Yes, he was 19, I was 15.”
It was the summer before he left for college. Mr. Slone went to Morehead College in Kentucky. He ended UP with a BS and a Masters, and was the elementary principal at Germantown from 1951 through 1966. He left the Germantown School system and went to Miamisburg Elementary where he taught and was the Principal as well. He was a WW II Air Force Veteran, a dad, a grandfather, and a husband. He was also a great neighbor to Mother and Daddy for over 50 years.
That’s the Mr. Slone I knew.
Hazel was from Kentucky as well. Like I said, she never let us call her Mrs. Slone. Mother just couldn’t stand that, but eventually gave in. Hazel gave all the boys buzz cuts in the summers before the Beatles hit the Colonies; every boy on Pollyanna Avenue looked like a little marine.
She also sat on the front stoop of her house and gave all of us advance notice of who our elementary teachers would be for the next year. We were all special to her, we were Pollyanna kids, and she knew all of us, all about us, and would on occasion, ‘straighten us out’.
That’s the Hazel I knew.
But, before she was a grown UP, a neighbor, a mom and all that, she was a pretty 15 year old country girl in love with a smart, good looking Kentucky boy.
While I was holding the picture, thinking “I HAVE to get a copy of this!!”, she said, “He proposed four times before I said yes.”
I asked her why four times? What was the delay?
She was waiting for him to ask her dad for her hand.
Yes, Virginia, people used to do that.
And Hazel wanted him to do it right.
She went on to describe the cold, rainy, wet, winter Thanksgiving night that Mr. Slone rode his horse into her dad’s barn and asked for her hand.
He was home from College on break. Yes, he was on a horse! She said he came into the barn, rain dripping from his slicker and hat, and asked Mr. White, Hazel’s dad if he could marry his daughter.
Mr. White, being a man of few words, and good sense, muttered something like, “It’s about time.” Mr. Slone took it as a yes.
And of course, you know the end of the story, she said yes, they were married for over 70 years, had three children, and impacted the lives of hundreds of kids in Germantown, not just the ones on Pollyanna Avenue.
It makes you think.
Behind every wrinkled face of every older couple, there’s a story. And it’s usually a love story. So, my proposal today is be thankful, not just this Thanksgiving Day, but always, for the one you love, the one who loves you, and the joy you share.
Just be like Mr. Slone and Hazel.