When Cathy and I were married 50 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida I was overwhelmed. I had just completed my internship at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and was into my first month of training at Charity Hospital in New Orleans as a general surgeon. I had met the most beautiful woman I had ever known, Cathy Young of Fort Lauderdale a year earlier in Atlanta and was amazed she even consented to a dating relationship with me. I had dated very little prior to receiving my medical degree in Little Rock, because I wanted to devote my time and energy to study and preparation for my career as a physician. In reality I was very shy and awkward in my prior relationships with women. I knew the kind of person I was looking for, and was stunned by her beauty when I met Cathy on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend, Marsha Moore. Marsha was the wife of medical school classmate, Dan Moore from Springdale, and she and Cathy were elementary teachers at the same school in the Atlanta area. I was doubly shocked that this gorgeous woman from Florida wanted to continue dating after our 1st date. Within a month I was certain she was the perfect one for me, and several months later she became certain toward me on a special date we had one afternoon at beautiful Lake Lanier near Atlanta. As an intern making the pitiful sum of $150 per month, I was unable to shower her with the expensive gifts and the exquisite dining she deserved, so we spent our time together talking and bonding at places that were inexpensive or free like Lake Lanier. She could have been dating wealthy guys that would have gladly taken her for expensive dinners and given her gifts I couldn’t even think about.
Cathy completed her teaching responsibilities at the end of May, and we set the wedding date in August to give her plenty of time for preparation of the perfect wedding, and time to enjoy the many pre-wedding parties and showers already planned. Even before her move back home she began receiving gifts from the many family members and friends we had in both Fort Lauderdale and El Dorado. We were astounded and somewhat embarrassed at the total number of gifts we received, but there was one special gift we received that we enjoyed on a daily basis for the next 2 years. More about the gift a little later.
When Cathy and I began dating she had the nicest car she had purchased just before moving to Atlanta. It was a 1964 white Oldsmobile Cutlass with a red interior. She kept it spotless on the outside and clean on the inside, and it was tight and fun to drive. I owned a
1964 Chevy Corvair Monza convertible which was red with a white interior so we were a pretty sporty couple, at least car-wise even before we met!
For our honeymoon trip we chose Cathy’s car because it was a little roomier with more luggage space and had a bit more comfortable ride. I had a month’s vacation from Charity Hospital so we could take our time driving from Fort Lauderdale back to Arkansas for me to introduce my new bride to the Land of Opportunity. She had not been introduced to the majority of my family and none of my friends in El Dorado, and I was anxious for all of them to meet and know my beautiful wife. In addition to our time in El Dorado, we drove into north Arkansas for her to see the beauty of the Ozarks and see my alma mater, The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. We had no idea then that exactly 35 years later we would move there.
After establishing our residence in New Orleans, we lived in 2 locations; an apartment in Kenner in which we lived the first year, and a duplex apartment in Algiers on the west bank of the Mississippi where we lived for the final 3 years. We kept both cars because Cathy had to drive to the 2 different elementary schools in which she taught, and for me it was at least a 15 minute drive one-way to the hospital.
Cathy and I began noticing an irritating rattle in her Cutlass shortly after moving to New Orleans. It was not a constant noise, and we could only hear it when we hit a moderate sized bump in the road. It seemed to be coming from the passenger side, and I checked her right door multiple times and frequently looked under both passenger side fenders. Occasionally when we thought of it, we would ask the local Oldsmobile dealer service department to check the tires and axles for rattles on the right side, but nothing was found. The one constant rattle occurred when we drove onto our driveway in Algiers because there was an irregular bump in the concrete there.
After nearly 2 years of our 4 year stay in New Orleans, we took the car to a service station for an oil change, and they put the car on a rack to drain the oil and check the under surface thoroughly. The technician said to me, “Do you want to leave this cowbell under here?” Thinking he was telling some kind of joke I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Look here,” and there it was. A cowbell attached tightly by a chain to the drive shaft. Everything suddenly came to light. Prior to our wedding Cathy’s brother, George had said he would watch our car and make certain no pranksters would write on it or pull any tricks on us. Right! He had carefully engineered the attachment of that cowbell so it would not draw too much attention, but would be an inconstant irritation like a tiny rock in your shoe. It worked for almost 2 years! When we called him to tell him we finally found it, he had almost forgotten about it and couldn’t believe we had put up with it for so long. His wedding “gift” had been giving to us far more than any other gift we received, because it was almost daily and showing no signs of deterioration with age when the giver was discovered.Thanks Brother George for your well thought-out gift!
PS: I just now thought about our return gift to George. You may read about it on this blog entitled, “The Visiting Doctor Has A Bad Day”