Monday, May 5, 2014

The Beginnings of Our Life Together

Our Mythology

We decided to get married in late November of 1977 and announced it to Linda Sanders' parents shortly before Christmas. Linda's father, Art, had the oddest response to our announcement. He simply said, "What did you say?" I don't know if he didn't hear what Linda had just said to him or if he was gob-smacked stunned! She repeated the news, and he responded the same way. And then a third time--by then, I thought I was in deep trouble! And then, as when Peter denied knowing Jesus, a cock crowed. Well, almost. I think Linda's brother Steve understood what was being said, and got up and shook my hand and hugged his sister. I never knew what went through the minds of Linda's parents. Did they think we were just buddies, just friends? Did they think we hadn't known each other long enough? I'll never know the answers to these questions.

Linda and I had been in the same graduate education class at the University of Cincinnati (UC) beginning in the fall of 1976--"Psychology of Reading," taught by the great professor, Linda Amspaugh. Linda Sanders was working as the secretary for the Health and Physical Education Department at the University of Cincinnati; I was in a Masters of Education program there, specializing in reading theory and pedagogy. I was one of 2 guys in the class--with about 20 girls. Both guys were named Bob--Bob Moore, and me (Linda thought my name was Bob Moore for quite some time). During that first semester, I gradually began to recognize this pretty, very quiet girl, who typically slipped into class a bit late because of her work schedule, often red-cheeked from embarrassment at coming in late. She didn't talk in class (Bob Moore and I talked all the time!). Gradually, Linda and I started sitting next to each other. Sometimes we would chat briefly after class as we walked down the hallway.

At the time I lived a short walk from campus, on a tiny diagonal street called "Hollister," between Vine and McMicken My slum apartment cost me $40 a month--and was worth it! It was bare bones to be sure and it was absolutely freezing in the winter. But for a student with no money, it was perfect. Linda lived about 3/4 mile away, just off the west side of campus, on Clemmer Street--but I wouldn't find that out until March of 1977.

After a wonderful semester in Linda Amspaugh's Psychology of Reading class, students asked her to teach a follow-up class, and she was able to do it--a Sociology of Reading class. The same people signed up for it, including Linda Sanders and me--and that was good luck indeed. For if she and I hadn't signed up, we might have never gotten together. This new semester, the Winter/Spring of 1977, Linda and I began sitting next to each other and talking much more (I was barely aware of this; it was pretty much unconsciously done). And we began to coincidentally run into each other in the stacks of the library. The stacks of UC's old library weren't places you visited by accident. They were dark and maybe a bit scary, almost dungeon-like. But they were quiet, a good place to study. The odds of running into a classmate there were not good. So I look suspiciously on those chance meetings!

Anyway, Linda and I had never had a date or even a long chat. I do remember that every once in a while she'd be eating hard candy or chewing gum and she'd offer me a piece. One day while walking down the halls with her after class, I said, "Hey, where's my candy today?" Before she could answer, I did something ridiculous. I reached into the front pocket of her pant and felt around for "my" piece of candy. I did it all so innocently, we both just laughed (and it was intended innocently). But afterwards, I thought to myself,"What have you done! That was a pretty daring move!"

Right around that time I had had a few dates with a girl I had met at St. John's Unitarian Universalist Church in the Clifton neighborhood, where contra dances were held periodically. This was pretty unusual for me--it had been quite a while since I even had a date. Most of the local girls I knew were friends in the Peacemaker Movement, and we just hung around together, pretty much like brothers and sisters. So there were no "dates" as such. Anyway, one day after our Sociology of Reading class, Linda invited me to her apartment for supper--for soup and cornbread. I enthusiastically accepted--and then realized that the day she wanted me to come I had a date with this other woman to go to Hap's Irish Pub in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati to hear Malcolm Dalglish and Grey Larsen play their wonderful folk music. So I had to tell Linda that I could come, but I would have to leave before 8 pm because I had an "appointment" (not sure what word I used!). She said that would be OK. So that evening, I had soup beans and cornbread at Linda's apartment, and then went on a date with another woman to an Irish pub. That was the craziest thing that ever happened to me--an all-time first. I believe I met Linda's Mom and Dad at that soup bean supper--and maybe her brother Steve.

Well things happened quickly after that early March 1977 supper. I would try to visit her at her office in the PhysEd/Health Department, and if I didn't find her I'd leave her funny notes. And we consciously sat next to each other in class and ran into each other in the library. One night we made plans to meet at Arnold's Bar and Grill on 8th Street in Cincinnati, the great pub run by my old friend Jim Tarbell. That night I worked my minimum wage job at the UC library, then ran the 2 or 3 miles to Arnold's (luckily it was downhill much of the way). There I met Linda and her roommate Mary Ann Hageman. We listened to some great music, drank some beer, and then Linda and Mary Ann drove me home in their blue Volkswagen Beetle. I was so excited about being there with Linda and meeting Mary Ann.

It wasn't long before Linda and I sat on the lawn in front of UC's McMicken Hall, in a ring of blooming crocus. And it was there we first kissed. About 9 months later we told Ruth and Art Sanders we were going to get married. I didn't "ask for her hand." That didn't seem right to us. We had no engagement ring. We had no elaborate engagement scenario.

And that is how our story started.

We were married 36 years ago today, and some day I will tell that story.

Bob, Linda; Chris Cotter behind, and Mary Ann Hageman, obscured. May 5, 1978.

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