Wednesday, February 14, 2018

They Won a Wedding: 52 Ancestors

It was 1946 and the war was over. Most of the military members had returned to their home countries. Young women wanted to get married and young men wanted to get a different kind of action. A Los Angeles radio station decided to sponsor a contest to give away a wedding to one lucky couple. My great-uncle was one-half of the winning couple. They had a lovely wedding, but they were far too young.

Thomas Merrill Allee, Jr. was born in Oklahoma on May 27, 1926. He was the youngest of eight children, my grandfather being the eldest. His father had been born in 1877 and his mother in 1884. They were horse and buggy and farm, while Tommy dreamed of fast cars and big cities. He and his father never got along. He wished his parents were like my city-dweller grandparents: a farm boy turned schoolteacher and a flapper turned office worker.

In 1928, the family moved from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to the high plains near Pueblo, Colorado, where they continued in farming. In 1942, Tom (senior) took a job with the city of Pueblo and the family moved to town. Tommy still couldn't wait to go see the world. At 17, he convinced his father to give permission for his enlistment in the Navy. He enlisted in December, 1943, and served on a troop carrier in the Pacific.

In the spring of 1946, Tommy was assigned to a small boat in the Los Angeles area. He and his girlfriend entered the radio contest and surprisingly won. She was not quite 18 and he was not yet 20 when they married. Their attendants were other couples who had entered the contest.

The young couple had a baby about a year later, but he lived only two days. It was heartbreaking and the marriage did not survive. They divorced soon after.

Tommy loved the sunny southern California lifestyle and decided that was the place to live. He went back to Colorado only to visit. He was a warm, friendly, charismatic man who made friends wherever he went. I know very little about his working life, but do know that he spent some years in sales and service for the specialized raised floors that are used in computer centers.

In the early 1950s, he was on a double date with a friend. His friend's date was Marilyn Rozycki Zwolinski, a divorcee a bit younger than Tommy. The two of them decided that they were with the wrong dates. It was the proverbial love at first sight.

Tommy and Marilyn married in 1955 and raised a family of lovely daughters. Their marriage survived much heartbreak, as they buried three of their four girls. He adored Marilyn and cared for her through her declining health. She died in 2011.

Tommy was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2012 and died on July 28, 2013.

Throughout Tommy's life, he called his first wife each year on the anniversary of their son's birth. Nonetheless, he asked me to keep his first marriage private as long as Marilyn was alive, though she knew about it. He wanted his sweetheart to never be embarrassed by gossip about his past.

No comments:

Post a Comment