Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How Dottie Met Larry

How Dottie Met Larry

     "You just have to meet this boy, he is so good looking!"  It was the early summer of 1949 and my friend, Mary Jane Engle, had been telling me about this 'cute boy' for weeks.  Her brother Mike had moved next door to this 'cute boy's' family at 1102 South Kenwood Ave. and from the way she talked, and she seemed just crazy about him, I thought he must have been a movie star.

     One day after work I went down to the Canton neighborhood with Mary Jane to see this unbelievable boy.  His sister told us that he was swimming with some of his friends in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, something that boys did back then.  I found out later that the 'cute boy' was quite the swimmer and could swim from Canton to Fort McHenry and back, but at the moment I just wanted to see what he looked like.  We walked toward the harbor but met the boys coming back and I was not as impressed as my friend was.  My first impression of Larry Baumer was that he was cute but too young for me and a little chubby.  Mary Jane and I considered ourselves 'old' at sixteen and Larry was only fifteen.  I looked at Mary Jane and made a thumbs down gesture.

     It would be two years before I would meet that 'cute boy' again.  At the time my family lived at 1415 DeMarcy Way and Mary Jane and her family lived next door.  I had just finished washing my hair and had it wrapped in a towel when I answered a knock at the door.  It was Larry - WOW!  The butterfly had emerged from the cocoon!

     Larry was now six foot one with broad shoulders, slim waist and hips, thick curly black hair and beautiful eyes.  He looked a lot like the handsome new movie star Rock Hudson.  He was definitely a 'thumbs up' now!  He had been visiting his friend, Mary Jane's other brother, Pete, and he wanted to know if he could borrow a pen or a pencil.  I was impressed with his looks but he still seemed too young, after all I was about to turn nineteen and he was just seventeen.

     I didn't know it at that moment but he had been asking about me and had let it be known that he thought I was cute.  Pete and his friends had told him to forget about me because I was so stuck up that I probably wouldn't even talk to him, they were almost right.

     After he had written down something with the borrowed pencil he asked if we could talk for awhile.  I said sure but didn't want to invite him in so we sat on the front steps.  It was a quiet summer evening, about nine o'clock, and we sat on the steps and talked for over an hour before he asked if we could go to the movies the next night.  I told him no, that it was my birthday and I was busy.  He persisted and asked me out for a date on the weekend.  Again, I said no because was too young for me.  "Do you think I look too young?" he asked.  I laughed and told him he looked older but that I was turning nineteen that next day and he was only seventeen, a full year and a half younger, which was just too young.  He told me that I was beautiful.  He told me how much he liked me and how much he wanted to go out with me.  I told him that he wasn't only too young for me but that I didn't think he had enough money to take me anywhere.  He told me that he worked at Crosse & Blackwells and that he did have money and asked me out again.  I laughed again, "But you're still too young!"  So he offered me a bet.
     Larry bet me that he could have a birthday card delivered to my house by the next day, for my birthday, and that if there was a card there when I got home from working, I would go out on a date with him that weekend.  I knew it was impossible.  It was much too late to get a card in the mail, so I said yes - if he could have a birthday card delivered to me on my birthday, I would go out with him

     When I got home the next day there were a dozen roses waiting for me - but from someone named Duke.  There was also a birthday card in the mailbox for me from Larry!  He had won the bet and that weekend we went out together for the first time.  He was a great boyfriend, mature for his age and generous.  Every week when he got paid he bought me a little present.  I never dated anyone else after our first weekend.

     That Christmas Larry gave me a huge teddy bear with a ribbon tied around its neck.  There was an engagement ring tied to that ribbon and that Christmas Larry asked me to marry him.  I told him no.  The bear was cute, and so was Larry, but I explained to him that we were too young and I wasn't ready to get married.  He said that was okay, that we could wait for a few years.  He told me he'd have a better job by then.  I thought about it for awhile and said that I would marry him in a few years.  He was so happy that he picked me up, swung me around and gave me a big kiss.  He was never cuter.

  We didn't wait that long.  Larry and I were married on a summer's Saturday, July 19th, 1952 at St. Bridget's Catholic Church at 911 South Ellwood Ave.  We were married by Father Robert Reed, the same priest who later gave me Catechism classes and who baptized me in 1960 (Larry's sister Doris was my godmother), baptized my first two children, Mickey and Barbara.  Father Reed invited me to receive my First Holy Communion from him, I still have his letter.  The day he married us, Larry was eighteen and I was nineteen.

     After we were married I found out that on the night when he had borrowed the pencil, I wasn't the only person he had made a bet with!  He had bet Mary Jane's brother Pete that he could get me to go out with him, stuck up or not!  That night he won two bets and my heart.

     And how did he get the card to me and win both bets?  After he left my house in Baltimore County, he had to buy a card, walk a long way to the first street car and transfer to a second one to get downtown, to the main Post Office, where he had a friend who was able to sneak it into the next day's delivery and then get back home to Canton.  I still have that birthday card.

     Larry was very proud of my engagement ring and justifiably so.  At the time he was living at home and he gave his mother his paycheck out of which she would give him his spending money.  Since he was too young to open a credit account on his own, he had to have his mother co-sign for him.  He then made the payments out of his 'allowance' along with the little gifts he brought me every week.  He sacrificed a lot for that ring.

     In 1998 I gave the ring to our granddaughter Laura, the granddaughter Larry always called Angel Baby.  Laura was married on May 26th, 2000, to Fred Strauch at the Shrine of the Little Flower Church on Belair Road, the same church in which her mother had been married to Laura's father, Steven Taylor, on December 1st, 1973.  Larry had passed away on a Friday, November 25th, 1995, after a long illness, at the age of sixty-one, but he was at Laura's wedding in spirit and the ring he was so proud of was on a chain around his Angel Baby's neck.

     Over the years Larry and I had our problems, but we always worked it out, and through it all, I never looked at him without seeing a glimpse of that charming, handsome seventeen year old 'cute boy' that I walked hand in hand with in that long ago summer in 1951.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a lovely story. I've heard so much about you from Mickey.