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On the Occasion of My Parents’ 75th Wedding Anniversary

Joan and Bob at their wedding at University of Chicago

My parents married 75 years ago today: June 19, 1943. Here is a poem Joan wrote on Tuesday, February 2, 1943, when she was only 20.

I remember the clear cold day we met

All ice and shining snow and sun dazzling but chill.

The trees black and lacy against the snow-hills

And the figures of people standing out clear on the landscape.

You, with your green changing eyes turning to look at me

As I stood on the hill . . .

War, even the war is beautiful, because it is so expected.

This world could not exist if there were not the undertone of tragedy.

The black shape is always moving

Across the face of the bright moon.

The songs that are trite to us now

May make us weep sometime because they bring back

Days that were when everything was yet to be done

And the world lay far below us—

Still to be ventured.

“I don’t want to walk without you, baby” . . .

“I left my heart at a stage-door canteen” . . .

“This is worth fighting for. . . .” [1]                   

We may even cry because we remember

That “Mr. Five by Five”[2] made us smile once

And the “Strip Polka”[3] will seem quaint and old-fashioned.

Maybe we’ll remember then

The day we first met

On a hill, while the world lay below us

Painted with black trees on snow

Traced with the steaming breath of cows

And black wisps of smoke from chimneys

And hills beyond and a white road—

And the world—

Still to be ventured.

Darling, if we come to nothing

Let’s not forget that.

Let’s not forget

We stood on top of the world once.

Werner Wehlen and Neva Wehlen (nee Levish), Joan’s parents

Best man Elwood Jensen, Bob, Joan, and maid of honor, Betty Quist

Mom and Dad cutting the cake–and this during wartime rations!

Glenna Anthony, my grandmother, with her son, Bob Morrison

Bob’s sister, Joan Pettibone; my father’s mother, Glenna Anthony; Bob; Joan; Neva Wehlen (my mom’s mom); Werner Wehlen (my mom’s father)

Joan throwing the bouquet

Best man Elwood Jensen, Bob, Joan, and maid of honor, Betty Quist

Best man Elwood Jensen, Bob, Joan, and maid of honor, Betty Quist


[1] These are all lines from popular songs of the time.

[2] A song from 1942 about a man “five feet tall and five feet wide.” Harry James and others made it popular.

[3] A song by Johnny Mercer, including the immortal lines often intoned by my father: “‘Take it off, take it off,’ cries a voice from the rear.” The song was made popular by the Andrews Sisters in 1942.


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