Years ago, I sat down and asked my grandma a whole bunch of questions, and recorded the answers. I'm finally getting around to sharing it with you. If you are anything like me, you've heard a lot of stories, but they got so complicated I wasn't sure I understood them right. This is my attempt to understand the life of my wonderful grandmother. Enjoy!
My grandfather had just returned to port unexpectedly...
So he says, "Hurry! Meet me!" When someone comes home, I hop in my car--the little red Nash--my mother's car. I don't know what she did. She must've gone back to riding the bus because I had her car. So anyway, the day I had the date with this sailor I met your grandpa and we went to Yuma and got married. He came in and I met him and we decided to go to Yuma. Neither one of us could get married in California because we weren't of age. we were almost 18.
Were you still in high school?
No, I had just graduated. We got married in November so I graduated in May. And as we were leaving I said, "Hey honey, drive by the Plaza and let's see if I can find the sailor I had a date with." But we drove by the Plaza and there were 10,000 sailors and I would never...I don't know what I was thinking. How would I have ever found the guy that I had the date with? I mean there was 10,000 men and I would have gone down there...
Did you ever have to tell that tall guy that you were married?
No. I never did. Mother said--I just called my mother and told her that I just got married and she said, "To who?" That was the times then. Anyway, she said after we came home, "That guy that you had a date with called and wanted to know" and she said "I told him that you got married." So anyway, that was my love life. I called my mother, but your grandpa didn't dare call his dad. About two or three weeks later he finally called. I remember the first thing Grandpa Sweat asked me..."Are you LDS?" And I said "What is LDS?" I turned to Boyd and said, "What's an LDS?" I knew he was Mormon. He said, "Oh that's a Mormon," and I said, "No I'm not." but I've never known a more perfect, loving wonderful man than your great grandpa Sweat--Elmer Sweat.
So that's about it. Then I was married. We got married at Gretna Green's Wedding Chapel.
Did you love him?
I did. I thought I loved him, but it was also the times. I had a boy next door all through high school that I loved as a high school girl. But he went off to the navy also. So I don't know--your grandpa was the first one that came back. But I wouldn't have married him if I didn't love him. All the others--other than the boy next door--all the others were just dates that I had--lots of fun and dancing and rollerskating and boat riding. There was a place where we rented boats. Most of the time we went on double dates with--I had two special girlfriends, Dorothy and Marsha. It was the 3 Muskateers, Dorothy, Marsha and me all through high school. We used to mostly double date or else just go alone. But you've seen pictures of it--all the soldiers and all the USO would go the dances and go--lots of fun. We did the jitterbug--I didn't get flung up in the air but...Frank Sinatra was my ideal. In face, I cried more for him when he died then Kennedy or any of them. You know, he was the one we used to drool over and I danced to Benny Goodman and all of the big bands.
All of the pictures you see during the war--they all went off to war and I don't know of any that got killed. My grandmother--your great-great-grandmother--my mother's mother had 5 sons and 6 or 7 daughters. 4 of her 5 sons were off in the war. She had 4 stars in her window. And each one was in a different branch of the service so all of my uncles, except one who wasn't able to go because he was color-blind--all of my uncles were in the service. So she had 4 stars out of 5.
Did they all live?
Yes. They all lived. They all came through the war. Only one had to survive Hirojima. Uncle Leo had big scars down his leg where a mine blew up, but they all came through. None of them got killed in the war, and they all served in a different branch of the service. My cousin that was like my brother, he was in the service too so she had 4 sons and one grandson in the war. Ask me some more questions.
Hmmm....How long were you engaged? (Oh yeah, about three hours.)
I was never engaged. I just got married.
What was the precise moment that you knew without a doubt that you wanted to marry this person?
When I saw him and we just went off. He didn't have a ring or anything. In fact the ring that I had was one mother gave to Boyd to give to me. Cause you know he was in the navy. He didn't have any money whatsoever. We rented an apartment and lived with another couple and shared a kitchen.
Was he gone a lot when he was in the service?
He was there, stationed in San Diego so it would be sometimes at night and sometimes just on weekends. He never got shipped out again. In fact the war ended right after we got married.
How much did your wedding cost?
Nothing. I remember I got married in a light blue suit.
What was an average day like during those first years?
Boyd would get up and go to the ship and this other couple that we lived with--they were from Arkansas or something--well we would just...I remember laying out on the lawn during the daytime and waited til they came home at night. We took turns fixing dinner after they came home and when they didn't come home, I don't know what I did. Seems like they got to come home usually at night. They spent the day on the ship and then we'd wait for them to come home we'd have dinner and maybe got to a show, if we had enough money, which we usually didn't.