This is the account of my courtship of the lovely Ann Laura McGuire, the woman who would become my wife.
I began classes at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in September 1947. The following summer of 1948 I was home at Carolina Beach, North Carolina, and working a summer job at the J.C. Penney Store in the nearby city of Wilmington. My brother-in-law Henry Ward was the assistant store manager there and helped me obtain a position as sales-clerk. In my spare time, I was enjoying life at the beach. Oh, those long ago, carefree summer days. The world was at peace, and I saw not a cloud in the sky.
On a certain Sunday morning in late June or early July I accompanied my mother to services at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, the same church where another brother-in-law, Paul Carruth, had formerly served as pastor and where he and my sister Roberta had been married. Church attendance, of course, was standard operating procedure for us on Sunday mornings.
My dear Mom always greeted visitors to our church, and after the service that morning she introduced me to a young lady who was visiting our church for the first time (it turned out that she usually attended the Presbyterian church a few blocks away). Anyway, this young lady was a vision of loveliness — golden blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes, and a beautiful smile. Her name was Ann Laura McGuire. She was a relative newcomer to Carolina Beach, having moved there a few months before to live with her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Saunders.
Naturally, I was very interested in this beautiful creature, but my expectations of any romantic developments along those lines were low to non-existent. I would not have been surprised if I had never seen her again. Imagine my delight when, a few days later, I encountered the lovely Miss McGuire at one of the local drug stores. She was working behind the soda fountain. I had always enjoyed orangeades (orange juice with a little sugar and water), but that summer I consumed more orangeades than ever before or since. After all, I had to have some excuse for hanging around the place. I drank the orangeades slowly and then waited for the ice to melt.
I wanted to ask Ann for a date, and I was somewhat encouraged by her friendly manner, but I still hung fire. This was the situation when, a week or two later, my dear old Dad approached me and said that he had made a bet with some young ladies down at Seashore Drugs (they had a bevy of beauties working there that summer) that none of them could get a date with his son. He said that a beautiful young blonde had accepted the bet. I knew whom he meant, so that afternoon I hot-footed down to the drug store and asked Ann for a date. After all, I did not want her to lose a bet on my account. She seemed willing and said that she would ask for her aunt’s permission. A day or so later it was all set. It turned out that she had dated only twice before and was even less experienced than I was – which was saying a lot. We were both completely unsophisticated romantics.
Our first date was a trip to the movies — “Easter Parade” with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. It was showing at the Bailey Theater in Wilmington, a truly palatial cinema in those days. The theater had a broad curving staircase, crystal chandeliers, plush rugs, fine furniture and all that. A trip to the Bailey was rather special, although not actually so very expensive. Anyway, I was so nervous that I had a bit of trouble with my parallel parking and ended up with two wheels on the curb. Ann didn’t seem to mind. Without further misadventure, we made it to the theater. I cannot remember a thing about the movie, but it was a wonderful evening — one of those moments of magic that holds a very special place in your heart.
It is odd when you look back at something like our first date and think about how this or that little thing changed your life. What if Ann had not made that silly little bet with my father, thus encouraging me to conquer my shyness? Would I have asked her for that first date anyway? I wonder. Anyway, that’s the way it was. We met. We dated. We fell in love.
I was on top of the world when I returned to my classes at Chapel Hill that fall. I was in love, and my girl loved me. I was doing well in school, and North Carolina had a great football team with an exciting tailback named Charlie (“Choo Choo”) Justice. Life was very sweet – and I knew it.
I had no automobile, but a fellow classmate of mine named Jimmy Grantham was engaged to a young lady at Carolina Beach, so he drove the 150 miles to the shore every week or two. I was a frequent passenger. Jimmy had been a waist gunner in a B-17 during the late war. There were many veterans in my classes those first few years of college, and they contributed to a certain level of maturity in the student body.
Ann and I continued to go together for the next three years, and during those summers, when she worked at Seashore Drugs and I worked at a nearby grocery store, I continued to consume large volumes of orange juice. Anyone investing in citrus fruit futures could have made a small fortune.
We saw many good movies, went to an occasional dance, and spent lots of time at my house. Mom and Dad enjoyed our company, and it was inexpensive. By the way, my parents had not yet acquired a television set, so there was much conversation, listening to good music, and sometimes tuning in to favorite radio programs.
In the fall of 1951, I returned to Chapel Hill to work on my master’s degree and Ann went off the Appalachian State College. It was no longer so easy to see Ann as it had been when she lived at the beach. I still had no car, and no one I knew frequently drove to the mountains on weekends. I was miserable, and I had a difficult time concentrating on my studies. I was falling further and further behind in my school work. It was then Ann and I decided that we would get married during Christmas vacation. The wedding was set to take place on December 16, 1951, at the little church where we had first met three and a half years before.
Ann at Appalachian State
By the time we made this decision, and because of my romantic befuddlement, my graduate studies were seriously in arrears; and for the next month or so I tore into my books like a man with his hair afire. I studied until late hours every night and somehow packed two or three days of study into each one. My mind was also preternaturally keen and focused. When I took my final exams before heading home, I aced them all. Unfortunately, I snatched only a few hours of sleep during that last week of school, and I traveled to the old homestead in an almost comatose state. Except for the sheer excitement and joy of the occasion, it was somewhat amazing that I was able to stay awake for the ceremony.
Some say it was a beautiful wedding, but I really wouldn’t know. I was far too dazed and close to the center of things to be objective about it, and I cannot remember the details very well. However, the wedding write-up In the Wilmington Morning Star was a real hoot. According to the article, “the couple left on a wedding tip during the afternoon. For traveling, the bride wore a two-toned suit with black accessories and the sity of North Carolina. He is now orchid from her prayer book”. Those seeking clarification in the Wilmington afternoon paper were likely to be even more confused. That worthy publication reported that Ann McGuire married “the late Edwin Saunders Jordan…”
Ann and I always wondered whether the proofreader was drunk or just off-duty that day. Perhaps it was the newspaper’s office Christmas party. Anyway, on December 16, 2014, Ann and the “late” Edwin Saunders Jordan celebrated 63 years of marriage.
The following year, on April 17, 2015, Ann stepped into the loving embrace of her Savior.
One thought on “A Terrible Thirst for Orangeades (An Old-Fashioned Love Story)”
“The sheer excitement and joy of the occasion…” What a blessing to have experienced those feelings, and how wonderful to have that “excitement and joy” to think back on. And, what a love story!