On a summer day in 1958, Don and I returned from our honeymoon trip to Mackinaw Island in Upper Michigan to the charming little village of Wedron, Illinois.
That fall Don became the Principal of Wedron Community Consolidated School, a two-story white frame schoolhouse, where he also taught seventh and eighth grade, occasionally drove the school bus, and coached the basketball team.
The school, the Methodist church, Doyle Hoxsey's store, a restaurant, a small post office and Wedron Silica Sand Company pretty much comprised the town.
Mrs. Knutson, whose home was just a block from the school, offered to rent us her home, including furnishings, for our first year of marriage. I brought my piano and my bedroom set from my home in Ottawa, 10 miles away.
Don had been rooming at Mrs. Knutson's home the year before, while teaching third grade at the school. Her husband had passed away and she had moved next door to live with her daughter, Burnette Smith.
I resigned my position at the courthouse in Ottawa because we planned to start a family right away and I wanted to do the "homemaker" thing big time.
This was not unusual thinking "back in the day!"
So we settled in as a newlywed couple.
As a new bride, I began cooking meals, but not on the big, black cook stove. I used the smaller "modern" electric stove.
Don said he couldn't come home for lunch because that was when the sales people came. So I packed a daily sack lunch.
I took a tailoring course at the local high school and made Don a sport coat which he – good sport that he is – wore to school, (even though the lapels would never lay down right.)
I tried making "egg coffee" like my Norwegian grandmother did, but it came out in clumps. (I later learned that you don't make it in an electric coffee pot.)
I decided to hang out our sheets on a clothesline, like my mother had done. (It was my first experience "going online.") I soon discovered that blowing sand is not a friend to white sheets.
The PTCC (Parent-teacher Community Club) held a party for us – the new principal and his bride.
In the fall the PTCC sponsored a Halloween party and invited the whole community and most everyone came in costume. What fun! I doubt there were any other parent-teacher groups quite like Wedron's.
We rode the yellow school bus with the seventh- and eighth-grade basketball team to nearby basketball games. We rejoiced when we won and felt bad when we lost.
When I found the days long – I visited with Doyle at the grocery store and Mr. Alexander at the post office. I volunteered to collect door to door for the Red Cross fund drive. I taught after-school Kids Klub with Burnette Smith at the Methodist Church. We attended a neighborhood Bible Study with Dean and Erma Martin at their home a couple blocks from us.
The following year Don was hired by the Ottawa Elementary District, and he began teaching at Lincoln School with Bob Littlehale as his principal.
County Superintendent of Schools, Ray Hawley, called to ask if I would like to come back to work while we were waiting for the "family" we planned to have.
So we found a small apartment on the West Side near my Aunt Eleda, and made our way back to the City of Ottawa – my hometown!
This summer, as we celebrate our 61st wedding anniversary, I look back on the first year of our marriage as a romantic adventure in the charming little village of Wedron, Illinois.
CAROLE LEDBETTER is a life-long Ottawan who finds each day an adventure. She can be reached at email@example.com.