I am writing this post to share a little history of my first wife for my children’s benefit. I remember at the time I met Mary Ann was while I was stationed at Ft. Hood, TX. I arrived at that post in May of 1977. I was a radio operator but worked in many aspects of the communications field.
I wont go into much detail about what I did during my duty there from 1977 – 1980, because that would fill a much larger blog entry then what I want to do here.
During my time I was at Ft. Hood, I had a few very good friends. However I cannot remember the name of the guy I was with when I met Mary Ann and her friend who both worked at the Temple Mall in the Piccadilly Restaurant.
I met Mary ann in May of 1979. Our relationship started with a little light flirting while in the serving line to get our meal. They knew we were both ‘doggies’ (a term for the local soldiers at the time) and at first I believed we all knew it was light flirting and that was it.
Well, we decided to go back to that restaurant the next day to see them. While we went through the serving line, our light flirting became a little more personal. We found out their names and where they lived. We didn’t have cell phones at that time (well, not one that would fit in your pocket anyway), but we did try to suggest that we go out sometime OUTSIDE of Piccadilly. I guess they were interested, because they gave us their home phone number (they were both still living at home with their folks). She was 19 and I was 21. We agreed that my friend and I would pick her and her friend up at her folks’ house and we would double date to a theater and maybe dinner.
She lived in a little (tiny) little town called Salado, TX which was about 15 miles south of Temple on Interstate 35. I learned first hand exactly what ‘farm roads’ were while trying to find her house.
Mary Ann’s parents were there when we picked them up and I tried to be on my best behavior during our little visit before going out. Her father’s name was D. L. Sutton (later I found out that it stood for Dock Lee (sp?)). He seemed kind of shy, but that was his just sizing me up…trying to get a feel on whether he would approve of me or not.
We went to dinner, not sure if I remember seeing a movie that night or not, but we did go to a bar in Temple. I don’t remember the name, but I do remember a fight breaking out when a couple of females in the bar started fighting over some guy. Now, this kind of situation I always found funny. No man is worth getting physical over (IMO), but soon there were more people involved and it was looking to become a full-out brawl. The humor of the situation left me and I soon thought that I would be in dire trouble with D. L. should I bring home his daughter all bruised and banged up.
So, we headed for the door. The police were just arriving when we exited the place and we were stopped briefly to make sure we were not the reason they were called, and away we went. We laughed so hard when we got to the car. I am not sure why all of us were laughing so hard, maybe it was for the close call with the police, or the way things would have turned out had we gotten pulled into the brawl….but for me it was still the fact that women were getting physical over a man. I still chuckle about that to this day.
After that, we took them home and acted like gentlemen when we dropped them off. I decided I wanted to see her again. As for my friend, he said that he didn’t really like her, but planned on having sex with her and forgetting her. We laughed about his comment, but that was the way things were for single soldiers in the 70s.
After that, Mary Ann and I dropped the double date thing and we started going out, just the two of us. We did normal things. Movies, dinner, shopping, etc. We even liked just going to Dairy Queen and getting an ice cream cone while learning more about each other.
It was a very good time in my life. No more trolling around bars or hanging out at pick-up spots on post, looking to get laid without even learning the other person’s name. This was a situation where I enjoyed doing something together with someone and looked forward to the next date even while out with her. One night, we were just sitting on her couch watching a movie when I looked down and seen what I thought was a cock roach crawling across my lap. I tapped Mary Ann on the shoulder and said ‘Look at this guy,’ as I poked at it. Mary Ann LEAPED off the couch and said something like ‘Holy Shit, that is a stinging scorpion.’ I remember sweeping it off my lap, jumping to my feet and shrieking like a little girl myself as I ground that thing into the carpet with my tennis shoe. We laughed. My future mother in law came into the living room to see what all the excitement was about….we laughed some more. Good times.
Our relationship moved very quickly. I was coming on the point where I was going to have to decide if I was going to re-enlist in the Army and my relationship with Mary Ann was a serious part of my decision to do so. Sometime in August 1979, I remember driving with my future father-in-law (D.L.) home from gathering and loading baled hay for his animals and I basically asked him about marrying his daughter. He didn’t freak or anything. The facial expression he had on his face, as I struggled to get out the words, did not change. All he asked me was when did we plan on getting married? I know it was sometime in mid-September, but I don’ remember the exact date (15th maybe). He told me that it was OK with him as long as I promise to take care of his daughter.
Now, Mary Ann expected me to have that conversation with her Dad, and when we got home, I took her aside and told her that we had his blessing. That evening, all her and her Mom could talk about was the planing of the event. It was about this
time that I was wondering to myself if I was really ready for this commitment. I decided I was.
I was asked if I had a religious preference for the wedding, and of course I said No. Whatever would make them happy. So we had to go meet with the church pastor and have a pre-marriage discussion with him. It seemed more like meeting a requirement rather than him actually seeing if we were right for marriage or not. I never did understand what the religious aspect had to do with marriage…but that is me.
I asked a very good friend and mentor of mine (Robert Morgan – a retired SFC) to be my best man. He had been like a father to me over the previous two years and I couldn’t have considered anyone else to stand by me on my wedding day.
I did not get involved in the planning of the wedding, but I guess I should have, because I ended up with this light blue tuxedo that seemed to make me glow. I have that photo somewhere and I have never shared it online. I will have to dig it up and add it to this blog at some point in the future.
The day of the wedding, I met a lot of her relatives and a handful of my soldier friends attended (mostly to see if there were any young ladies attending that would like to get naked with them – effing dogs – hehehe). After the ceremony, we were all going to have a little buffet style gathering at her parents house, but after realizing there was no alcohol at the reception event, Mary Ann and I decided to go to the store and get some beer and wine. I remember we were gone over an hour because we decided to shoot some pool while out. When we got back, one of her judgemental aunts chastised us for 1) being gone so long and 2) needing alcohol to celebrate the event. Again…we laughed. Haha.
We went to Dallas for our Honeymoon. Stayed at a nice hotel, went to fine dining restaurants and took in Six Flags over Texas where I rode in a roller coaster that had a double loop for the first time (and last time…eff that crap). I had held the lock down bar so tight during that entire ride, it took two days to get full blood circulation back into my hands.
We got back to Ft. Hood, we found an apartment in Temple, TX and I re-enlisted for 6 more years and got about a $2500 re-enlistment bonus which was a good amount back in the 70s.
All told, I was with Mary Ann through 10+ years of marriage and she gave me three wonderful children, Chuck, Chesney and Dustin Hoffman. But, as many marriages do, we divorced due to a developed inability to even like each other anymore (another story for later). Our divorce caused many very difficult changes in my life, one of which was being forced out of the Army due to my parental responsibilities after over 13 years of service (another story for a different time).
There were very good times and very miserable times, but I would not change a moment of it for fear of changing the outcome of what I have today. I still have regrets and anger towards certain members of the Military, but I love my kids above all else and would go through every minute of it all again if I had to.