February needs a love story, so who better to feature than my mom and dad—in his words.
In the late 1930’s I had a small variety store in Berkeley, California selling greeting cards, Parker pens, fresh baked goods, toys, and dolls. One day1 I decided to hang toy monkeys from the ceiling in the front window. By using electric motors I had them moving around so as to gain the attention of pedestrians. Captivated by the display, an attractive young lady came into my shop and showed interest in a doll for sale. She returned another day and I became interested in her. Then she became interested in me.
We were married in Reno, Nevada in October 1941. A cabin nestled in a clump of pine trees at Lake Tahoe was the simple but romantic setting of our first night together. We were hardly settled when a strange crackling sound seemed to be coming from the cabin roof. Convinced it was on fire, we rushed outside and were relieved to see a great number of pine needles falling on our roof from the swaying trees overhead.
The next morning we drove along the lake and discovered a place for breakfast called Honey Bunch—an appropriate place for a honeymooning couple. For some time after this I called my wife Honey Bunch.
As we drove south, we encountered snow on the summit, south of Tahoe. We stopped, got out of our car, gathered some snow in our hands, and threw snowballs at each other. This was our first fight, but it was all in fun. We laughed all the while.
Five weeks later, the newlyweds were stunned at unwelcome news. They were celebrating the birthday of Dan’s niece, eating chop suey at the Shanghai Terrace Bowl, when an unwelcome announcement interrupted the festivities. Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Thousands of young men were drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, including Dad, who at the age of thirty-six was sent to Officer Candidate School. The couple would have to wait four years before resuming their life together.
At war’s end, Dad returned to his hometown. Because of his college degree and aptitude for teaching, he was hired as a seventh grade teacher. (Many years later, a new middle school was built and named in his honor.)
Every Valentine’s Day, while they raised us four children, Dad always gave Mom a fancy heart box filled with chocolates. She ate the candy and saved the boxes. They celebrated 59 years of marriage, shortly before she passed away. Dad joined her a few years later.
When Mom walked into Dad’s store for the first time, she had no idea meeting him would change her life forever. And Dad did not know he would be buying so many heart boxes over the years–for his valentine.