Happy Fiftieth Anniversary, Susan Frank Sinatra

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Happy Fiftieth Anniversary, Susan

Frank Sinatra Strangers In The Night

Our story begins when Susan was18 years old, had just finished high school, and recently arrived in Williamsburg as a freshman at the College of William and Mary. I was a senior, courtesy of the World War II GI Bill of Rights. The time was Fall 1949.
I was a member of Sigma Pi Fraternity and Friday nights was the usual time to bring girlfriends to the fraternity house to socialize, play music, sing songs and dance. One evening a freshman pledge, Dick Collier, walked in with the prettiest girl I had ever seen. I can see that image very clearly right now. I went over, introduced myself and said hello. I then sat down on a sofa across the room and watched her much of the evening. Yes, we were strangers that night and who would have thought what might happen in the years to come. About a week had gone by when I saw her next. She was in the Wigwam, the local college snack shop used by students when the cafeteria was closed. She was sitting in a booth with her roommate, Barbara Smith. I asked if I might join them. They smiled and said yes …ummm!
John Gary My Foolish Heart
I questioned Dick and asked if he would mind if I asked Susan for a date. He said OK, but what else could a freshman pledge say to an upper class fraternity brother? The next time I saw Susan I did ask her out. She said yes. We had a very nice evening with lots of fun. I asked for another date and she said yes again. From that night on, partying with Susan at the fraternity house was our normal way to spend Friday evenings.
To reach the fraternity house it was necessary to walk from her dorm, Barrett Hall, down a dark, lonely, but safe road, cross a bridge over the campus pond and then to our destination. After a couple Fridays we stopped on the bridge and I kissed her for the first time! We continued on to the fraternity house where we danced to this popular song,

My Foolish Heart. It became a favorite of ours and we danced every time it was played.
This was a good time in our lives, one we will never forget. We went everywhere together, every day to the cafeteria for meals, our daily trip to the post office to check the mail and an occasional movie. Picnicking at the local Lake Mataoka with our friends was fun, and claret lemonade at Chownings Tavern was an extra special treat. We also enjoyed our trips to the beach at Yorktown for swimming and diving for oysters.
Jo Stafford And Paul Weston No Other Love
One weekend in the springtime Susan came home with me to Portsmouth. She met my parents, stayed for the weekend and made a lasting hit. As the 1950 school year progressed we became inseparable. That year ended much too soon. I graduated, took Susan to her bus and said goodbye. This was a most unpleasant day. I went home to Portsmouth and on the next weekend got into my car, drove to her workplace in Washington and spent a couple days at her home in Falls Church. I met her parents and thereafter visited occasionally. These were the days of Great Falls, canoeing on the Potomac and sitting on poison sumac at its banks! Later during the summer, I visited her for several days while she and her family were on vacation at Breezy Point, a beach in Calvert County on the Chesapeake Bay. This was the favorite summer vacation spot for Susan and her family as she was growing up. She still has many fond memories of the fun with friends, and cousins, who also visited.
When Susan returned to the 1950 fall semester at William and Mary enthusiasm was lacking in our relationship. We stayed away from one another for more than a month. One night I called from Portsmouth just before her exams and asked for a date, knowing that she would have a way out if she really did not want to see me again. She said yes!! We went to the fraternity house that night and had a happy reunion! That was one of my all time best days.
Roger Williams Lara’s Theme
While driving with her one night during the spring semester of 1951, I said, ”we’re going to get married”. She said “no we’re not”…ummm. A few weeks later I asked, “are we going to get married”? She said “no”. Well, I guess she got tired of hearing that because the next time she said “maybe”. The maybe gradually turned into an “OK” and during the early summer I gave her an engagement ring.
Now’s the time to pause and consider that if she had continued to say no, none of you would be in this room today!
By the fall semester of 1951 Susan had left William and Mary and entered the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. I traveled to Falls Church on a regular basis to visit her and she occasionally came to Portsmouth. At this time I worked at the Chemical Laboratory of the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth and was there until the early summer of 1952 when I transferred to Edgewood Arsenal and moved to Baltimore, close to Susan.

Andre Rieu Ave Maria

Susan and I were married by a favorite priest, Father Rae, at St. James Church in Falls Church on this day fifty years ago. Lloyd was my best man and Jane was Susan’s maid of honor. We had our reception at Susan’s home and dinner at Maria’s Restaurant in Little Italy, Baltimore. It really seems like yesterday when we ate that mushroom spaghetti. We drove on, bought two little bottles of champagne on the way and stopped in a motel on Route 40 at Aberdeen. It’s still there and is now known as Knights Inn. We stopped the next night at Clay’s Motel in Atlantic City. The following day we left for Moosehead Lake in Maine where we stayed in a log cabin on the lake. It was inundated with landlocked salmon and at night, bears were everywhere. I think everyone on the lake caught salmon except us – and we did try! We had a very nice honeymoon and returned by way of Niagara Falls. Our 1941 Chevrolet broke down in Montreal and we barely made it home.

Our life together began upstairs in an old frame house on Mary Avenue in Baltimore just off Route 1, in the Hamilton area. After a year and just after Cindy was born we moved to an apartment on Hawthorn Drive in Edgewood. Our other children were soon to arrive. Cindy was born in 1953, Mike in 1955, Patti in 1956, David in 1958, Mary in 1961, Paul in 1970 and Jamie in 1975. In 1958 our home was built in Bel Air. There were good times and some not so good.
My Favorite Things – Julie Andrews
Life frequently became hectic when our children were young, but as the years passed we had lots of fun with them, and as the family grew, we grew closer. Vacations with the children were fun. Especially notable were the weeklong trips to beaches such as Ocean View Beach in Norfolk at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and later camping just about everywhere.
The years to follow were busy … toys, dogs, Christmas, 4H, fashion shows, PTA, singing in the car, sandboxes, Captain Kangaroo, tree houses, sleepovers, Brownie scouts, picnics and parties, Elk Neck, Mickey Mouse Club, the Bird kids, St Margaret’s library, Disney World, a peevee, Mom’s taxi, Cape Hatteras, sewing machines, cookouts at night by the stream, crayfish and salamanders, homework, the Fruit Bowl, toilet toothbrush, Cub scouts, Dr. Wilhelmsen, snorkels, birthdays, Mrs. Quisenberry, Lucy Lindsay, Linda and Carol, Scott and Jodie, Linda, Richard and Bob Kaste, Karen and Nancy Hanks, Jamie Neubauer, the McHughs, Father Rose, Tarpon, Sound of Music in New York, Polecat Creek, Lloyd’s boat, Florida Keys, the pink thing, bluefish, ground squirrels and dinosaur bones, Tiki Birds, lawn mowers and tropical fish, grade school, middle school, high school, college, boyfriends, girlfriends - weddings, and in a blink of an eye, and suddenly, we were middle age!
Perry Como Hawaiian Wedding Song
On our thirtieth anniversary in 1982 we began vacationing without the children, so off to Hawaii. Granny, Grandmom’s mother, volunteered to stay with Paul and Jamie while we were away. Hawaii was a special place for us and we returned twice again. Patti stayed with the boys the third time. This may have been the worst experience in her life, but I do not think I will discuss that here.
For those of you who do not know already, this is the Hawaiian Wedding Song. As you do know, freedom came along with our retirement, vacations were regular and we became busy with dancing lessons, cabarets, and most important of all, just having fun with one another.

Connie Frances – Anniversary Waltz

With few exceptions, life has been good to us.

I can’t believe that our Fiftieth is already here. It has been a long road but I really knew from the very beginning that I had been lucky enough to marry the right girl, and in case you have not noticed we are still on our honeymoon!
Happy Anniversary, Susan, and thank you for all these years.
With all my love,
Charlie, July 26, 2002

My Foolish Heart

Andre’ Rieu – Anniversary Waltz

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