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THE BEST DANCER OF ALL

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Some might call my meeting with Marguerite romantic. I just call it amazing. It was a Sunday afternoon and Frank Liston and I were sitting at a table in Jack Flabb's Café. The juke box was playing and several people were dancing. Across the dance floor, four girls were sitting together at a table. I got up, walked over and asked who was the best dancer among them. They all pointed to Marguerite. I asked her to dance. She stood up and we were on our way to a lifelong relationship. At that time I was l8 and very cocky and self-assured. I had already become a prize fighter and-except for a TKO loss in my first fight and then a fight to a draw in my third bout-had won them all. But Marguerite would tame me. At l6, she was a very sweet and beautiful young lady. We hit it off immediately and began dating, though not regularly. However, we thought a lot of each other and always had a great time together. Most of our dating was on weekends, circulating through the local dance halls. Saturday night dances at the Parkland Temple, at 28th and Dumesnil, cost a quarter. The attendant stamped the back of our hands with an ink stamp so we could come and go from the building. One of our friends was a young man who was a sign painter and very clever with his hands. Sometimes we would pay for one stamp and he would duplicate it on everyone else's hands. On Sunday nights we went to either Madrid on Second Street or Colonial Gardens on Third Street, across from Iroquois Park. Occasionally, we went to Fontaine Ferry Park, where we would dance to bands led by such greats as Lionel Hampton, Jan Garber, or Red Nichols and his Pennies, and others. We had been dating about one year. Marguerite was seventeen and I was nineteen. One night in the early part of November l936 I picked up Marguerite. As we left her house I asked her if she wanted to get married. "That's all right with me, she replied," so, I turned and headed north toward Jeffersonville Indiana. Just across the Ohio River, it was known as the place for couples who wanted a quick marriage. There was no waiting period then or any other requirements, just a few dollars to pay the magistrate. As it happened, I had twenty dollars in my pocket, which I had planned to use to buy a topcoat. But when Marguerite walked out the door that night, I forgot all about coats. Though I thought she knew where we were going, about halfway across the bridge to Indiana, Marguerite spoke up; " Where are we going?" " We're going to Jeffersonville to get married". " Married?" she said, her eyebrows turning upwards. " I thought you said "Let's go get Mary". [Mary was her cousin and they were inseparable] " No, I said, " Let's get married", and that's where we're going. She said she didn't want to get married and told me to turn around and go back. By this time, I was pulling up to the place with a sign in the front yard reading, "Marriages Performed". I stopped, got out, walked around to her side and opened her door. Taking her hand, I said "come on, let's get married". She continued to shake her head. Finally, she agreed to get married, but said we couldn't live together until we got married again by a priest. So I had to promise I would wait until we got married again. Two weeks later our marriage was blessed in the priest's parlor. Since then we have observed our wedding anniversary on November 21st, the date of our second marriage. I know our match of over sixty five years was made in heaven, for only God could arrange a wedding like that... On our 55th wedding anniversary, Marguerite asked me if I still loved her like I did when we first married. Anniversaries are the occasion when married couples get sentimental and say sweet things to each other, ours was no different. I answered, "Honey, I think I feel somewhat like Jacob felt about Rachel." The Bible says that Jacob worked for seven years for Rachel and it seemed like just a day, so great was his love for her. But, it took me ten years to get that overcoat!

 

 

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