Fate/luck does play a major part in us getting married forty five years ago!! Here is how it happened.
Working a little over a year in Atlanta after being honorable discharged from the Army (drafted) and my Vietnam tour, it was time for me to relocate because I was a tad mixed up mentally and the life that I was living there in Atlanta just wasn’t me. I quit my job, stopped smoking and drinking and I was on my way to Daytona Beach in my VW, hopefully to start a new and better life.
As a young teenager I had worked (waiter & kitchen help) and attended many times a church camp at Indian Springs, GA that was held only two weeks every year. I say this because as fate would have it, on my way to Daytona, I saw a sign that said Indian Springs Church camp is open. I pulled in and spent the next three days there.
My very first day in Daytona Beach I got a needed haircut. I asked the Barber where can someone with no real skills get a good job? He replied: Telephone Co or Power Co. Sitting in my VW, I opened up the want-ads pages of the morning Newspaper and found something that I had to have, a place to stay and it cost no money which was good because my funds were down to less than $150. After waiting almost six hours for the interview with the owner of this 200 unit Motel, he was so impressed with me for waiting as long as I had ---he gave me job. There was no money involved for me in this gig, but I now had a small clean furnished apartment on the beach side and all I had to do was to get up every time someone rang the bell at the front office between 9:00 pm and 7:00 am; check them in or help them. You see the bell was connected directly to my apartment because there was not a full time clerk in the office.
The next day I walked into the personal office of Fla. Power and Light Co and fate played a part again because I was hired on the spot because I was a Vietnam Veteran and the personnel lady doing the hiring had a son that had just been sent to Vietnam and she just wanted to help me. This was a huge change from my past experience in Atlanta when looking for work because I was turned away because I had been in Vietnam. It was in some Newspapers that we were baby killers and we took dope. I never saw any dope or anyone kill a baby. I have to admit I did drink a lot there.
Sure, I noticed this gorgeous French Canadian young lady when I checked her and her parents in the motel but I’m thinking she cannot be more than 15 or 16 years old – too young for me. Besides that, the next day they checked out to go to Miami and I took off to Buford, GA to pick up my used fishing/ski boat that was being stored at my aunt/uncle home and tow it down to Daytona Beach.
The rest of the story maybe tomorrow and you won’t believe how FATE/LUCK again played a big part in getting us together
On my way to GA to get my boat, I picked up a high school friend and her young baby in Jacksonville, Fla. to give them a ride back to our home town of Marietta, GA so that she could visit her parents and sister. About 25 miles outside of Jacksonville on hwy 10 a disaster happen, my VW engine blew up on the worst road in the country because there had been many rapes and murders for years on this highway. It was very hot this day and I had to leave my friend and baby and go get help. After waiting for over an hour at the nearby service station, five miles away, and a nervous wreck, I dropped the coins in the machine to get a pack of Winston and my addiction is still going on to this day.
After getting my friend and her daughter back to Jacksonville, me and my VW were towed back to Daytona, I started back to work at both jobs again. By this time I was replacing some of the full time clerical staff when I was not working at the Power Co. and they paid me themselves under the table when they wanted off. My boss, owner of the motel and now a friend told me the second day back from my misadventure with my VW some news. The French Canadian family with the beautiful daughter had checked back into the motel because they did not like Miami and he had learned that she was 21 years old.
That evening she came down to the lobby where I was working and next thing I know we had a date the next morning to go walking on the beach. Her name was Jocelyne, and believe me when I say she was some serious “eye-candy” but with a bikini on “OH MY”. She was so pleasantly different from any girl than I had ever met; grew up in a different world that I had; had gone to all girl Catholic school & college, played classical music on the piano for me and it did not hurt that she then had a French accent.
I was truly hooked in just a short time (a few days) and I proposed to her over a cup of tea in a beach side restaurant and she said YES. Then they were gone back to Quebec. I telephoned her as soon as they returned home and she had told her parents that she wanted to married me, but first I must ask permission from her father. Was I nervous? You had better believe it. He said yes, but you must understand that she is very spoiled.
Because the family was very Catholic, we must get married in a Catholic Church; promise to raise our children Catholic and get a written letter from my minister with his permission and description of my character. I had no problem with any of this. Yes, I was going to a very large Baptist Church in Daytona every Sunday and I figured that would not be a problem getting my minister’s permission to get married. Was I ever so wrong! The minister said NO because I should not be marring a Catholic and he would not give me a letter. After contacting Jocelyne about this problem, her priest said for me to go to the local Catholic Priest in Daytona for consultation. After a couple of visits to this young priest, whom I liked, he gave me the letter that we needed.
I put an ad up on the bulletin board at a local college for someone to help me drive to Canada. Got a response from a young man from upper New York and we were on our way nonstop from Daytona to Quebec.
Now do you believe me that fate/luck did play a part in us getting married 45 years ago today?
It’s time to take my bride of 45 years to her favorite Restaurant in Lynchburg, VA.
Please note the photo of a piston with a valve stuck in it. I keep it as a reminder without my VW floating this valve over 45 years ago; I would have never met nor married this exceptional lady.
Here is the rest of our marriage story 45 years ago.
The road trip to get married was long and very exhausting. I had dropped off the college student in Albany, NY in the early AM and there was a lot of snow accumulation. In some places going north from Albany the snow banks were over 10’ on both sides of the now narrow hwy with little or no traffic both ways and my speed had dropped down to below 40mph. I was also beginning to hallucinate some with visions of Santa Claus. etc. in the snow banks as I continually rolled up and down the windows in my VW bug to help keep me awake with the freezing air. Even though I was trying to make it to Jocelyne and her parents’ home without getting a motel (to save my money), I needed some sleep in the worst way, so I decided to find the first motel but none were open until after I had passed the Canadian border for many miles.
When I telephoned Jocelyne from the motel early the next morning after getting a few hours of sleep, she told me that I had less than 20 miles to go. I had no clue that I was this close. I arrived the day before Christmas and was very well received by her mom Mariette, dad Maurice and younger sister Danielle. Most of the next few days are somewhat a blur now. I do remember meeting their relatives/ friends and a lot of French being spoken but all of Jocelyne’s immediate family were bilingual and when I was around they would switch to English. To my great surprise her mother Mariette, this little lady 4’11” with a great sense of humor, wonderful smile and with her heavy French accent, became my best friend and confidant.
We had a few things to resolve before the wedding: (1) Change the priest who was going to marry us because he could not speak English; (2) Wedding ring and bands – her aunt/uncle owned a couple of Jewelry stores and gave me the wedding band and Jocelyne’s mother gave her her wedding ring. ; (3) Shoes for the wedding for me- again another uncle loaned me a pair, (4) Best man – Jocelyne’s father youngest brother Andy,(Mr. personality) who was totally bilingual; (5) be interviewed by her priest (requirement)-- Jocelyne translated; (6) Very important to me--find a motel where we could spend our Wedding night that was close by and a bed longer than 6’ (I’m 6’ 2”). We finally found a motel about 8 miles away but had to settle on a bed that was only 6’; and (7) Rehearsal.
The Wedding day: I had all kinds of emotions going on from fear, nervousness, excitement and joy… There was a very big crowd, all relatives and friends of Jocelyne and her family was in attendance at this extremely beautiful and large Catholic Church. Most of the ceremony is vague to me now because I know that I was in a daze when it was going on. But I do remember that I was now married to the love of my life: Marie Therese Jocelyne Lefebvre Floyd.
The Reception: Her dad, it seems to me, spared no expenses because the food was plentiful /delicious and the amount of wine and alcohol was unending. The French Canadian people are some of the friendliest people in the world and they know how to have a good time. We danced and they sang many beautiful French songs. Over half the people in attendance could speak very little or no English but we all had a great time even though I was the only one at the time that could not speak one word of French. Yes, there were a lot of jokes and comments about our wedding night but her Uncle and my best man said in front of everyone that he was coming to the motel with us, stand beside our bed and read the instruction manual to me on “how to do it”. I grew up in the very conservative state of Georgia in the 50’s and I had never heard this kind of talk in a mixed crowd but still I enjoyed it all.
Believe it or not but by the wedding night I forgot all about the length of the bed!!! I’m sure Jocelyne had the cleanest teeth in the world that night because it took her 30 minutes to brush them and I thought she was going to spend the night in the bath room. Maybe I should not say this, but the wait was worth it as we consummated our marriage. I still remember it as if it were yesterday. “OH - MY - GOODNESS! “
The next morning early we went back to her parents’ home to load her clothes in the backseat of the VW bug, say goodbye and head south to Daytona. We had not been gone long when Jocelyne started getting sick, a flu was coming on and by the time we checked into a motel that evening she was really ill with it. I telephoned her mother for some help. She told me what medicine to give her and to put her in a hot tub of water. Putting her nude in a hot tub of water and giving her a bath was something that I looked forward to doing. I shouldn’t have said that either.
We made it to just outside of Washington DC for the second night and we ran into another problem the next morning; It had turned very cold and they had an ice storm that night;. VW would not start. The battery is under the back seat where all of our clothes were and after removing them and getting a boost it still would not start. We had to be towed on the main hwy because ice was on the secondary roads did not give us enough traction. It finally started and I was back on my way to Fla. with my very, very sick bride.
We were both very happy to get to my furnished apartment at the motel and rest. My boss and owner of the motel had given us a wedding present; two weeks free at the motel and the bell to my room was disconnected. Jocelyne’s flu lingered on for another week before she was back to her normal happy go lucky self and we were off to being a young happy married couple in Daytona Beach, Florida.
MY BRIDE AND I LIVING IN DAYTONA BEACH 1968 &1969 In the first part January 1968 we had two weeks free in our apartment on the beach side at the Treasure Island Motel in South Daytona Beach that my boss had given us as a wedding present before we had to move because the car races and motorcycle weeks were coming soon and the motel needed all the rooms that could be rented out over the next two months. This period is one of the most profitable times for Daytona. Rates for motels are double what they are in the fall. Some private motels in slow times had their clerks check to see what kind of automobiles people were driving when checking in. People with expensive autos were given the high rate. If they complained, we would lower the rates and tell them it was a different room even though it was not. My future father-in-law paid the high rate because he was driving a new Buick Riviera; he was surprised when he was told what was done to him by his now son-in-law.
We found a one room basement apartment on the far north side of Daytona bordering on Ormond Beach, our stay there lasted only a couple of weeks before we moved up stairs in this divided furnished home that made two places for families to live. We now had a furnished two bedrooms, two half baths, hall way, large kitchen/living room /dining area with bay windows and a large covered patio overlooking the Ocean and the cost was only a $125.00 a month. Our back yard was the Beach. Were we lucky or what? We were in High Cotton as they say because our immediate neighbors’ home belonged to the heirs to the Maxwell House Coffee fortune and Jocelyne became friends with them. Whenever we wanted, we swam and surf fished in the ocean, which was very often the first few months.
For the first month my VW had to be parked at the top of a sand dune every evening and parked on a small hill at work to be able to start it when coasting down or have someone push me until we had enough money to repair the starter. Money was really tight because my weekly check clear was only about $90.00 and Jocelyne did not work or was not able to drive a car with a clutch. Every week we sold our soft drink bottles for extra change.
The second month here brought in a major problem for us because US immigration was threatening to deport Jocelyne back to Canada in a couple of weeks because the she had not signed “one” of the many forms when she applied to live in the states. The US customs would not work with us in any way and she had to go back to Canada and sign one form in Montreal at the US customs. Thank goodness that her father paid the round trip airplane ticket for this two day trip.
Did I say that my new bride could not cook? She weighed 105 pounds and my weight was 175 pounds when we married and within six months she weighed 95 and I weighed 150 lbs. Jocelyne hates me saying this but we did live off of LOVE-- a lot. Besides that we never stopped because almost every evening after my work and on week-ends we were on the go somewhere doing something.
We now had my boat here and we went fishing in the river a few time and once, did water ski in this wide river called the Halifax that emptied into the ocean only a couple of miles away from where I was skiing . We could not figure out why people were not skiing on this very flat water until I found out the hard way when I fell while skiing that produced some serious cuts on one of my shoulder when hitting the bottom that was full of broken shells. Except for the channel in the center, this half mile wide river had a depth of about 2’ deep in most of it. The next time I water skied it was on a small inland lake (a mile long and about 200 yard wide) near Ocala. There were only a couple of small fishing boat out and I had the lake to myself to ski. I did really well this day on the one ski and did not fall for over 30 minutes of doing it but when I got into shore an older gentleman came up to me and said: “son I don’t think it’s a good idea to ski here”. Why, I replied? His response: “alligators and a lot of them in this lake.” Except for a few more time fishing the boat stayed parked for the rest of the time in Fla.
We did play tennis a few times but we golfed a lot. I had taken up golf when living in Atlanta and both Jocelyne and I had a day class with a professional golfer when living in Daytona. We joined a par three golf club directly across the street from the race track in Daytona and the cost was only $125.00 a year for both of us. This was lot of fun because they had lights on the course until 11:00 pm every night. Every Tuesday a tournament was held for its members. Each team was made up of a low handicap player with a high handicap player. I was the novice player or high handicapper and when I had a better than normal evening, we normally won something. At different times I won golf shoes, hats, balls, t-shirts and tees.
One Saturday when not many people were playing, I decided it was time to save some money and to try to retrieve some golf balls that were in one of the larger ponds and get the ones people could not reach from the shore. Jocelyne’s job was to stand on the bank and watch out for water moccasins and/or alligators that we knew were in the pond. I waded out about 20’/ chest deep and was able to retrieve about 100 balls with my 8’ ball extender…. I never said that I was very smart.
Another thing that we did a whole lot of in the evening was going to Jai Alai and bet on our favorite players. I was not the only one that thought that Jocelyne looked very young because she was carded almost every time we went. Most of the players knew us by sight when we sat up toward the front because they would wave to us when we arrived. I really don’t think it was us they waved to but it was my beautiful wife with her short sun dress with a somewhat exposed large top that seem to get everyone’s attention.
We also did some camping in our used army pup tent with no door flap. The tent cost us $5.00 at the army surplus store; snorkeled a lot in the inland lakes/springs and sometime I went scuba diving; visited Silver Springs in the glass bottom boats; visited historic Saint Augustine with the oldest existing home in the USA and its forts; and toured both Tampa and Coco Beach in search for Mexican restaurants..
After a month or so I bought Jocelyne a puppy to keep her company. He name was Marquise DeBabess and she was a registered miniature poodle that I paid $125.00 for.
Daytona Beach was an amazing place with almost something going on all the time: races (Daytona 500 & bike week), Dog racing track, spring breaks for colleges, Easter breaks, senior high school parties, vacationers to name a few. I’m sure you will believe me when I say it was all an accident ------Jocelyne really thought I was looking at the skimpy clad good looking girls on the beach……I stayed in hot water all the time with her about these accidents. No, I wasn’t looking honey!!
What really helped us survive money wise was my overtime at work but mainly the relatives and friends that came to stay with us because they furnished most of the food. We had Jocelyne’s sister Danielle and her girlfriend, my aunt, my mother and sister, her uncle, Jocelyne’s father and mother; Jocelyne’s mother came another time and stayed recuperating from an operation for over a month, my favorite cousins Hilda and her boyfriend –they got married on their way back home to GA and they are still married, plus many other friends on both sides.
Once during a 75mph hurricane work called me in early while Jocelyne stayed all alone at our apartment. She knew that maybe I might have to work some overtime and asked me to bring home some boiled shrimp for supper when finished working. She was not a very happy camper when I woke her at 3:30 am to give her the shrimp but I did do what new boss (my bride) asked.
We did eat out a lot in local restaurants but my favorite places were at the Krystal (5 burgers for a dollar) or McDonalds where the Big Mac was 25 cents. I do miss the Krystal burgers- we do not have any in VA and the fresh fish directly from the boats delivered to some local restaurants. We loved the broiled fresh snapper at our favorite small local restaurant. This makes me hungry just thinking about it.
We had no air conditioner in our apartment so, many nights, we would pull a bed up to the only exterior open door to get the wonderful ocean breeze.
After almost a year the house that we were living in was sold and we had to move. This time the apartment with one bedroom was a couple of blocks away from the beach and neither one of us like it very much but it was all we could find near the beach but it did have an air conditioner and a place for our dog to run around in. Another drawback was that it was too small to receive guests that helped with the groceries and keep Jocelyne company. Jocelyne did very well emotionally until her first Christmas away from home. No snow and the temperature was running about 70 degrees on X-mas day. I did not help the situation much this Christmas because of my present. I had bought her some very expensive earrings and boxed/wrapped them up in a small box. You think that would be a nice present wouldn’t you? It was, but what I did not tell you is that I put the small box inside of some size 12 new rubber high top billy boots from the Power Co. and then boxed/wrapped up everything in one big box. She had been shaking this large box for a week trying to figure out what I bought her for Christmas. When she opened the large box and saw the boots she started crying in the worst way thinking that was her gift and continued on even after I showed her what the real present was. She was truly homesick and I was upset because I had helped create this situation and did not want to see her this way.
Jocelyne is Catholic and I’m Southern Baptist so we agreed to try not to make this a fighting point in our marriage and we could go to the Church each wanted to attend. I went once to her church in Florida and what I found was a lot of Latin being spoken and somewhat disappointed in that they did not sing. I understand that they do not have Latin services anymore. Next, Jocelyne went with me to my large Baptist Church in Daytona and her response to me afterward was: Why does the preacher bang the pulpit so much and why does he yell almost every word? But I do think she enjoyed everyone singing the many songs that day. Even though I cannot carry a tune, I sang my heart out that day and she was nice to me because she did not say a word about my singing and I appreciated that.
There was another dark cloud hanging over our marriage and Jocelyne worried about this a lot. Even though I had been drafted and served two years active duty, I still had a very good chance, at that time, of being called back into service because I had a 4 year reserve obligation. You see, everyone that went into the military in those days, even draftees, had a 6 year obligation and some reserve and national guards outfits were being called up at this time in 1968 because they needed more troops in Nam.
We were once at a very big banquet that the Power Company had with its employees in our area. We all sat at this screened in area where the tables were put together in line to make one long table. As luck would have it, we sat directly across from the President of the Company. This older, grey headed, highly educated and pleasant gentleman was in a conversation with me and my Bride. By this time Jocelyne’s American language skills had improved a whole lot and she had very little French accent but certain words and American slang were still in its learning phase. One thing I can say about my wife is that she has never been able to hold back speaking when something is on her mind. As the President of the Company was in casual conversation with us Jocelyne interrupted him and said: I don’t understand what you are saying Sir because all I know is “four letter words”. Needless to say everyone near us broke out laughing and said to me “Bobby what you are teaching her”? Jocelyne turned to me and asked what’s so funny and I explained to her that “four letter words” is slang for curse words. She had meant to say she only knows small words in English. Later on when I was working in Quebec in the French language I too made a lot of mistakes that got a lot of people laughing.
It was time to start looking for a home for us to maybe purchase. Because I knew nothing about real estate, I decide to take an evening real estate course. Jocelyne made me promise to not get my license because her dad was in it and was never at home. After the course we started looking for a home. We found a beautiful brick, 5 year old two story where one could see from upstairs both the Halifax river and the ocean. It was a bankrupt sale and they were only asking on $22,000. Today it would be worth a million. The next one that we could afford much easier was a duplex one street over from the beach for $10,000. But before we did anything I needed to figure out how to make more money in my work. I had worked both Line work on a crew and the service truck as a helper for over a year and enjoyed both jobs. The problem I had here was that it took “time “to move up to an apprentice lineman and then a lineman. It would take me another 6 to 8 years to become a lineman that paid $4.80 an hour at the time which was pretty good money. The other problem I had was heights and even though I practiced off duty climbing poles, it was not something that I enjoyed. A lot of my older friends at work suggested to me to apply for a Storeroom job because it was non Union and you would get promoted faster especially if you are were willing to relocate. I really did not like this storeroom job much because you were busy in the morning with the trucks but by afternoon one had to look for work or push a broom just to look busy. My friends were correct in saying if I were willing to relocate I would get promoted because within four months an opening came up for a storeroom manager in a small town in central Florida that I could have if I wanted it. This town offered us nothing that Jocelyne and I wanted. It was one of poorest places that I had ever seen in Fla. The way majority of blacks and 50 whites lived in shacks and except for farm work nothing was really there and living in central Florida was something that neither one of us wanted. So I turned down the offer and continued on with my boring storeroom job in Daytona Beach.
One day, I asked Jocelyne to call my work and report me as sick. She said if you are going to do this then let’s take a trip over to Deland and see what it would take to go to one of best law schools in the country at Stetson University. I had gone to two years of college at North Georgia College in Dahlonega- dropped out at the end of second year to travel and see what’s out there (which I did), had taken correspondence courses in the Army, attended night law school at Woodrow Wilson law school for 4 months in Atlanta, taken refresher courses at Southern Tech for three months in Marietta. Stetson University wanted over $10,000 a year to go there full time. This was totally out of the question. We returned to our apartment late that afternoon when Jocelyne suggested that I telephone North Georgia College that I had gone to before. I told her it was a military college and that I was not a Georgia resident and besides that I did not think they would take a male civilian as a student. Was I ever so wrong!! The Registrar acted as if she remembered me and said please come on back and she would let me in as a Georgia resident and I would be the first Vietnam Veteran to attend the school and because of recent low enrollment in the military school that had just started accepting more civilians.
That weekend I was playing golf with an older friend who was an engineer at GE and I told him that I wanted to go back to college but had no money. He said “if it’s something you really want—don’t think about the negatives just do it and it will work out.” On that following Monday, I quit my job, loaded my boat with our possessions (clothes, golf clubs and our small black and white TV) and hooked the boat to our VW bug and we were on our way to North Georgia College in Dahlonega, GA to register for classes. The problem was that we did not have near enough to pay for the first quarter tuition, books, rent, and food. Read about it in my next write-up about our return to College.