How I Met The Love Of My Life, Part II

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For those who are waiting to hear Part II of my love story, here it is. If you missed Part I you can read it here.

As that summer moved into late June and early July, a few interesting things began to happen. Bill invited me to join the gang (Russ and all the kids) for a movie on a Friday night. I was tired and not thrilled about being with a whole bunch of people, especially kids, but decided, Hey, why not. It’s an opportunity to get out and do something different, instead of sitting around here at home.

Bill pulled into the driveway in his VW bus, loaded with Russ and three or four boys and the sister of one of the boys. I climbed into the front passenger seat which was empty. Russ sat in the back surrounded by kids telling jokes that weren’t all that funny. During a break in the chatter, I asked what movie we were going to see. Bill answered: “We’re going to Tarzan goes to India.”

Yikes, I thought. Then Russ piped up and said “I’m not going to that crap. I’m going to see Hud, with Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, and Patricia Neal.

Which movie do you think I chose? You guessed it. I went to see Hud, with Russ, I had no inkling that Bill’s invitation to the movies was supposed to be a date. Would you have thought it was a date? With a bunch of kids in tow?

Word got back to me the next day when my brothers told me that Bill had been very disappointed. The next time he invited me on a Friday night movie trip to town, I smiled teasingly and said, “No. If you really want a date with me, we have to go alone. No kids or Russ. And by the way, I’m not a Tarzan fan.”

We spent the rest of the summer, going to shows at Vermont’s abundant summer theatre venues, ate luscious dinners together, and went to the movies alone now and then. I liked Bill a lot and began joining the gang for Friday night movies regardless of what they were going to see.

One night after a movie and a stop at the local ice-cream joint, my brother, Reid climbed into the front passenger seat. Bill told him to get in the back, but Reid refused, saying, “But I got here first.” Bill went around to the passenger side and pulled Reid out, pushed him up against the bus and said, “That is where your sister sits from now on.”

I’m not exactly sure of the exact moment that love sruck, but Bill became my best friend who listened to me and understood me. Best of all he loved my crazy family and they loved him. Bill and my father, argued philosophy and politics at the dinner table. And there were times when I thought Mom and Dad cared more about him than they cared about me.

When September rolled back around, Bill went back to New York City, to finish his masters at Columbia’s Teachers College. He was interested in international education and his dream was to open or be involved in a secondary school with kids from all over the world.

I went back to school as well, and resumed my job as a waitress and chambermaid at the Lodge. I stopped dating anyone else, and put all of my energy into my classes.

I missed Bill terribly and before long we were talking on the phone most evenings. Bill drove the four or five hours to Vermont for long weekends and school holidays. He’d put more work into the Round House, and we spent time hiking in the mountains and skiing when snow fell. He stayed at our house, not the lodge, and my father even allowed me to go down to New York to visit him. The big caveat was I had to stay in a hotel whose clientele were only women. The name of the place now escapes me, but it must have been one of last vestiges of the Victorian era. And knowing my father was not above checking up on me in his own sneaky way, I did stay there … at night.

The most memorable trip to see Bill was the day John F. Kennedy was killed. I was on the bus just outside of the city, when at one of the stops, a Trailways employee stepped up on the bus and announced that Kennedy had been killed. All of us on the bus were in shock, many of us in tears. Bill and I spent the next few days together glued to the television set, grieving the loss of the young and bright shining star who would lead us into a glorious future.

If nothing else can pull a couple together it is the processing of grief and loss. Through the sadness, we talked about getting married. At Christmas I had a ring on my left hand and traveled to Washington, DC, where Bill’s folks lived.

I had one more year of school to finish up. Bill, done with his Masters, applied for several teaching jobs in Vermont. He was hired as an English teacher and dorm master at St. Johnsbury Academy, in the northeast corner of the state, about an hour and a half away from Killington.  We spent the next year talking on the phone when we weren’t together, and on June 19th, 1965, a few weeks after I graduated from Castleton, Bill and I were married.

I don’t know where the years have gone. Some think that after 50 years together, some couples get tired of each other. Of course, we’ve had our not so good times, but we always worked our way through the problems. We still talk every day when we’re off in different corners of the world and always look forward to being together again. There is of course more to my story, and maybe over time I’ll have more stories for you.

Our Family, Summer 1970

Our Family, Summer 1970

Do check back here next Tuesday to learn about my monthly newsletter, which I’ll start sending out in October.


  1. I’m loving these love story installments, Joan. And, oh, seeing those chairs warmed my heart when I recalled that sunny day we all plopped in them for a picture! Beautiful family photo and beautiful love. Thanks for sharing. I’ll stay tuned in for the rest of the story. 🙂

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks so much, Kathy. I Love those chairs, too. That was one glorious day and get together. I’ll be adding stories as I go along and glad you’ll stay tuned.

  2. Enjoyed the rest of the story – look forward to more – What a great writer you are!

  3. Some love stories are torrid, some are simmering which, like yours, adds to the suspense. I especially enjoyed the scene from your “movie” when Bill pulled Reid out of the passenger seat and pushed him up against the bus. That bold move certainly makes up for some of your ambivalent feelings earlier.

    Lovely family photo. And of course the Adirondack chair shot is iconic!

  4. Joan — The second installment was definitely worth waiting for. Thank you for sharing your wonderful love story!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Marion, I like that … simmering. Glad you enjoyed it. I’ll be adding more stories as time goes by. Thank you for your kind words.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Laurie, My pleasure Laurie. Thanks for being a regular here!

  5. Was it the Barbizon Hotel, Joan? I know that was at one time the only hotel that took women only, though they probably called them girls.

    I love these stories, whether oral or written. And I can hear Bills chuckles of approval and affection in the background.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Yes, it was the Barbican, Janet. Thanks for filling in my memory card. Yes, they called us “girls,” and it was quite an amazing and I must add boring place.

      Thanks for loving stories like this. Bill is in the background chuckling as you imagine. He’s having as much fun with these as I am writing them. It’s lovely having such wonderful memories. I also relish being able to show a few who thought our love would never last, that it has!!

  6. “Best of all he loved my crazy family and they loved him.”

    I put this sentence together with the one above. “I also relish being able to show a few who thought our love would never last, that it has!!”

    One of the best predictors of a long and loving marriage is the desire to understand the other, and to love the others crazy family. Goes all the way to those LOVE chairs — which made me smile also.

  7. Shirley, Those love chairs say it all for me. You are right about the desire to understand the other with all the baggage that it entails, is a must. It was often very hard work, but it’s been worth every moment of sweat and tears. Long live love, marriage, and crazy families!