Friday, Sept. 11, 1942
German submarines battled Allied ships throughout the Atlantic, even blowing up ships in front of onlookers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and in Barbados. In Chicago, headlines trumpeted the imminent drafting of college students, the calling up of the National Guard, gas rationing. Chicago was gearing up for scrap drives.
Despite the news, my parents went down to City Hall and were married there by a judge. In a letter the next day to his sister, my father described the quick, simple preparations, a typical war-time wedding:
“Well, what happened was like this – I just couldn’t wait any longer. We got our Wassermans*, etc and then got the license, 2 gardenias, a veil, a , a wedding ring, 2 witnesses and went to a judge and by 3 PM we were married – just like that.”.
They had almost married ten years earlier when they first met in New York. They were entranced with each other but somehow the relationship broke down. My father went off to medical school and my mother married someone else. After she was divorced, they got back in touch. By that time, my father was in Veterans Administration stationed as a physician in Chicago. Newly independent, my mother was working in New York.
They rekindled their relationship and my father pressed my mother to visit him in Chicago. They had been corresponding for months about the possibility of marriage. They were in their twenties and there was the possibility that my father would soon be overseas. Waiting seemed pointless and old-fashioned scruples about living together must have seemed irrelevant to them.
The newlyweds splurged on a dinner out. When they came home, my mother lit the Sabbath candles. They were elated even though there was no honeymoon, only a weekend.
* A test for syphilis developed in 1906 by August Paul von Wasserman. Many states required prospective newlyweds to take it and prove they were free of venereal disease