Rev. Edgar F. Wheeler: 35 Our Courtship

Xenia Lee’s family home was located on a country road between the small settlements, or villages, of Jarvisville and Big Isaac. Her father was a school teacher in the area. Her mother was his helper in getting around, as he was handicapped physically by amputation of one leg due to a serious infection. They were a close-knit family, having passed through a difficult time during her father’s illness, hospitalization, amputation and recovery.

I was welcomed to their home after I met her parents briefly as they came to Salem to pick Xenia Lee p on a Friday evening after two weeks work at the F.L. Summers Variety Store, where I first met her. My first impression of the family was that they were common, industrious and high-principled folk. Her mother’s garden was fairly dazzling in its productiveness.

Soon I was taking Xenia Lee home on Friday evening and sharing some events oike church attendance and July Fourth. Our dating could be called out of the ordinary in a way. I visited her quite regularly evenings at her dwelling with her uncle and aunt, V. Oris and Lydia Stutler. I was not permitted to interfere with her studies. Our relationships were social, allowing us time to become better acquainted with each other.

One unusual way we spent much of our time was just plain working together. I had gardened in spare time, selling vegetables for enjoyment and income. We would use her Aunt Lidia’s kitchen to can vegetables from my garden. Although at that point we had not openly discussed marriage, I think that there was an implicit understanding between us that we were prepar8ing for out life together.

We had a deep love and respect for each other. After about two years of courtship, the time came when we decided we wanted to marry and would ask the consent of her parents. I was about eight years older than she. To me, at least, our dating stands out as a high point in my life. Dating was not simply an adventure, but it was a meeting of minds and ideals. And this remains true after many years of life together with all its realities and “growing up” together. I regard it to be by God’s plan and purpose.

One occasion that stands out in our early acquaintance was on July 4, 1943. I was invited to go with Xenia Lee’s family to Grandma and Grandpa’s home Bug Ridge, above Sutton, West Virginia. Xenia Lee and I walked through their apple orchard hand-in-hand. It felt like “spring in the air” to us young lovers!

On another occasion, her mother apparently feared our becoming too affectionate. We had gone to make molasses. The driver’s window of my car was wide open and I could not close it. A heavy rain storm came. Xenia Lee had her arm around me holding a blanket over the window. Her mother said, “Do you have to have your arm around him?” Xenia Lee answered logically (and I hoped, gladly) “I have to hold this blanket so the rain won’t come in.”

We continued to date, getting more and more serious. Finally, her employer, F. L. Summers, said, “Ed, you have dated Xenia Lee long enough. Why don’t you throw a gunny sack over her head and take her off and marry her.” That was an old West Virginia expression. Delightful words once again.

We became engaged. Then, with persuasion, we got her parents’ permission to marry. Her father asked me, “Do you have the means of supporting a wife?” I proudly answered, “I earn $100 a month!” That seemed to satisfy him. So he granted permission. I will never forget the devastation I felt when I feared they were going to say, “No,” nor the happiness when they said, “Yes.”

We had happy days preparing to marry on August 10, 1945. We were married in the evening on a hillside at Middle Island Seventh Day Baptist Church in West Virginia. It was true love and a happy marriage, almost like a dream through all the serious realities of marriage. So ended my bachelor years with a happy conclusion. There remained some college years, but life was now complete.

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