There is a story to tell about my parents, more than one really but the one that needs to set precedent for any future mention of my parental units is how they met. there are people who have been subjected to me telling this story before but important to set down in a record. This is my re-telling of what I have been told and remember. And frankly I like my version pretty well and don’t think it is too far off the mark. So forgive me Charolette and Bill with any liberties. I think we all know where I get my storytelling from.
My parents have been married 47 years as of my last birthday when I was 45. their anniversary is 7 days before my birthday and I love to harass my mother that they got hitched just in time to make me legitimate. This does not amuse her as the church-going-choir-singing-non-cussing-non-drinking-Pollyana of our lives. They actually were married two years and that week before I was born but again my harassing version is funnier at least to me and pretty sure my dad thinks so too.
My dad is from Pecos, my mother Odessa. Those of you readers not familiar with these garden spots of west Texas, they are separated by 72 miles of the ugliest barren landscape that you will ever hope to hurtle through at hopefully a speed so fast it will be but a brown flat blur. Pecos is the west point and is the home of the world’s first rodeo I will have you know, and I was born there so limit your boos and hisses due to those key points of interest alone.
In Jan/Feb of 1962 my mother was 22 and my father was 25. This is old for haven’t been married yet in 1962. Seriously, their friends were hitched up in many cases with babies on the hips. One of my dad’s closest friends though was a quite eligible bachelor that my mother knew of somehow through, what else, a church camp friend. He had asked my mother on a date and my dad wanted her to find him one, too. Again, the eligible fair maidens of Odessa was slim and Charolette couldn’t turn anyone up. A reasonable person would have gone about their business but not my dad. Nope he went on their date with them. Danced with my mother even, stepped on her feet, and apparently tried to get cozy with her, a kiss I think. Seriously! the gall! she is on a date with his friend! This was not done and certainly not in my mom’s world. She really thought he was an ass but she wouldn’t use that word. Important to know that he wasn’t raised to be like this in social settings, wasn’t raised in a barn. Important to picture that my dad was about 6’10” at the time and my mother is 5’5″ which really kind of adds to the whole this really isn’t a match thing.
One would think that would be the end of it. My mother lived at home in Odessa, worked for Shell Oil in Midland, paid rent to her parents, had a nice car, was quite the self-sufficient, and I will say beautiful woman who didn’t have to put up with Bill Collie’s uncivilized behavior. I am not sure how long after their delightful first meeting, I am going to say about a month later, my dad called my mother presumably wanting to get together to apologize. He told my mother he was on his way to China (!) didn’t have much time but wanted to see her. She said she had the flu and have a nice trip. A short while later he called again. She remarked that she thought he was in China, he said no and he still wanted to see her and asked her out. For some wacky or fevered reason she said yes.
He came to Odessa. When she answered the door, he remarked that he thought she was a blonde. In my version of the story my mother gives him that squinty look she gives us when she is not amused as I can’t remember what she said in response. But she had been to the beauty shop and her color was more red that day. Then my grandmother -to -be came to the door, asked if he knew about air conditioners and dragged him through the house to look at theirs. He did have a family electrical supply business so this wasn’t completely crazy, although with my grandmother, really, it could have been something he would have no knowledge about and she would have done same.
They went to see Pinocchio, the Disney animated film, I am sure in first run? in Midland and then kissed in public and held hands (scandalous!) in Luigis in Mildand (which is still there btw). And as my mother tells it that kiss sealed the deal. STARS, the woman saw STARS. just like in a Disney fairytale.
Daddy was apparently smitten before the kiss hence all his going to China cover story etc to try to get to Odessa to see her.
And they married TWO WEEKS LATER. You read that right. TWO WEEKS LATER these two crazy kids got married in Odessa TX and honeymooned in Fort Worth, then settled in Pecos. I think it’s funny that people stared at my mother’s stomach for months to see if she was pregnant since they didn’t know Bill was even dating anyone. And clearly he wasnt’ as he was meeting and marrying in short order. Which is even funnier if you know my mother, she of the Christian Women’s Fellowship. And she was quite glamorous in Pecos TX, believe me. She was from Odessa after all and Pecos had 14,000 people to probably Odessa’s 30,000? She worked had great clothes with matching handbags and shoes. They did have to get rid of her sporty car as it leaned on the side my dad was in.
They had two pronouncements going in, Charolette was not going to buy beer and Bill was not going to buy Kotex. She had to learn how to make enchiladas (which she did and I have great memories of those enchiladas in the metal “enchilada” plates that are actually steak plates with the wood bases to set in). And she did tell me once that they both had to be flexible eventually on those first two conditions.
You don’t live together for 47 years and 3 children without a sense of humor and a sense of self because Bill Collie is literally larger than life. Fortunately at 5’5″ Charolette Collie is no pushover.
And I will be forever blessed and lucky that my dad, the uncivilized uncouth jerk he was in early 1962 didn’t give up. My mother definitely gave his reputation a boost. I definitely got the sense of humor required for this life. But I also got a lot of other really good stuff due to this combination that couldn’t have been predicted.
It apparently was written in the stars.