I've been running off at the keyboard for too long already, and think it's high time for Jean (xyl) to have a turn. Although she calls it a 'fairy tale', I'm here to tell 'ya every word of it is true:
A Fairy Tale That Came True!
Once upon a time there was a 15-year-old boy, who was so much in love with a 15-year-old girl that he couldn’t sleep or eat. His lovesickness was very real but he couldn’t talk to her about it. He thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. They both played in the Mt. Pleasant High School band, but he was two years advanced from her scholastically, and graduated from high school the year she was a sophomore, in 1935, when they were both 16. He did all sorts of things to get her attention, like arranging the music for piano and three trumpets for himself and two friends to perform, in the hope that SHE would accompany them, and he could thus be close to her. (The Trio, with HER on the piano, performed at an assembly program.) He also took to writing notes to her in study-hall (remember those days?) since he was absolutely tongue-tied in her presence and couldn’t speak at all. In one of those notes he invited her to the senior prom.
Any 15-year-old girl would be ga-ga over such a possibility, so she hurried home to ask her parents’ permission to go. To her embarrassment, they finally acceded but only under the stipulation that THEY would have to escort her both to and from the dance. Oh, woe. But yes, she wrote back her acceptance to the boy, (under those embarrassing conditions—better that than nothing.) And it was not until she had written a note back that she would like to go with him, he suddenly realized that he had asked a girl to a prom AND HE DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DANCE! (He had attended many dances previously, but as a musician in the band.)
He promptly enlisted the help of a buddy who knew the dance steps and practiced all morning the day of the dance. To no avail. He was terrible. Like a person dancing on stilts. And to make matters worse, he couldn’t seem to talk to her either. One 5-word sentence remains in memory: “Would you like to dance?” and that was about it. A distressing first date for them both and the only date they ever had with each other.
He returned to his home in Mt. Pleasant MI, after serving in the Navy during World War II, with his wife and baby Bill, (now W2WM), engineered and built Mt. Pleasant's first radio-broadcast station, WCEN, after which RCA hired him away. He spent the remainder of his career with them as an electrical engineer in Princeton, NJ, managing their antenna laboratory, and designing antennas which now orbit the Earth on satellites giving us our long-range weather forecasts. He also has antennas on the Moon Buggies parked in NASA’s used car lot on the Moon. Several of his antennas are in the Smithsonian, including those on the World’s first weather satellite, TIROS 1. He played trumpet during WW2 with such big bands as Alvino Rey. On retiring to Florida, he first played trumpet, and then string bass with the Deltonans in DeLand, a Glenn Miller-style, 14-piece big band, made up of retired professional musicians, Having been too ill to continue for the last couple of years, he previously played regular Friday/Saturday gigs with a small jazz group at the Royal Bar and Grill, a country club at Canadian Lakes, with an occasional stint at the Brass Café and Saloon in Mt. Pleasant.
After being retired for 15 years and widowed for 12, he decided that he was reading altogether too many obituaries of those who had been close to him in his early years, and decided to do something about it--he would have been devastated had he ever seen her name there. Fortuitously, he later saw her picture and an article in a professional publication, indicating that she had married, raised a family and had a rewarding career, all without his knowledge of her whereabouts. He acted upon his wishes to find out more about her, and called her to ask permission to send some pictures and to ask for some from her.
The lady was shocked (and pleasantly surprised) to hear from him after 61 years, for she didn’t know where HE had spent his life either. Her immediate reaction was “What a marvelously youthful and vigorous voice this man has!,” knowing, of course, that he had reached the same age as she, and might possibly show that age in his voice, which he did not. It is also important to remember that she had really not heard his voice much in his youth. (He couldn’t talk to her, remember?)
Well, now he could and did talk…wonderfully. So wonderfully that, as one phone call led to another, the lady fell hopelessly in love with the voice of a man she had not seen in 61 years. After several Fed Ex, Fax and e-mail messages, supplemented by many phone calls, they decided that surely a three-day, get-acquainted cruise was in order, and he immediately booked it. She flew to DeLand, Florida to meet him, and her opening words (after a giant hug) were, “Where did you say this boat is going?” To which he replied, “I can’t remember. I’ll have to look it up.”
To say that they had the best time of their lives on that cruise would be the understatement of the year. And at the Captain’s cocktail party, when he took her in his arms to dance with her, he took two steps, and she flew promptly to the Moon to join his antennas. For now he could and did dance…wonderfully. How a scientist of his caliber could also be such a true romantic is mind-boggling to say the least. But when he also said, “Figuratively speaking, I’ve been waiting for you all my life,” the lady succumbed completely, and decided that her destiny had become irrevocably joined with his for whatever time is left to them both.
They are living their remaining years together. In the winter months (November through April) they can be reached at his home in DeLand. In the summer they will be at her home in Mt. Pleasant, MI.
And for the record--his name is WALTER MAXWELL, known to ham-radio operators as W2DU, and on the Internet as email@example.com
, and his web page at www.w2du.com
. He is retired from RCA’s Astro-Electronics Division. Her name is JEAN BINKLEY MAYHEW-MAXWELL, Professor Emeritus, Central Michigan University.
On February 27, 1997, Jean and Walt were quietly and romantically married on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, in the Netherlands Antilles. Even though they both reached 91 years in 2010, their perpetual honeymoon would make 20-year-olds envious. Furthermore, each February they have traveled to their Eden on Anguilla to celebrate the anniversary of this twilight marriage, which was surely made in Heaven. They will continue the travel as long as their health permits. However, only their fairy godmother is allowed to accompany them.
PS—to date they have participated in eight cruises on the Caribbean and the Atlantic, and four trips to Europe that include twelve countries,