Walter Frank "Chub" Gerard and I met in 1931, in the depth of the Depression. He drove an old Pontiac truck and created a money-job by loading and hauling large cans of fresh milk from 10 different farms. He delivered it to Hillcrest, Central and White Eagle dairies in Columbia. Then he went to his classes in electrical engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Late in the afternoon, he loaded the clean, empty cans and returned them to the 10 farms. His old canvas-sided Pontiac truck required a new drive shaft every four or five weeks, and he installed those at night or on weekends.
I was in University High School on South Sixth and Conley Avenue. Two teachers thought I should try journalism school, so I enrolled there.
Chub parked his truck in the lot that was between U High and MU, near the engineering building. It was fun for us to eat our sack lunches together at noon in the truck.
We participated in youth activities at Little Bonne Femme Church with some Deer Park kids we knew. On Sunday evenings we occasionally went to the Presbyterian Student Association on the university campus. Chub and the leader, Joe, were good friends.
Chub had a fine bass voice and sang in Olivet Church’s choir and in the barbershop chorus in Columbia.
My spending money came from two part-time jobs. I earned a dollar a night by carrying beer and set-ups at the Coronado Restaurant in Columbia. Depression tips didn’t amount to very many nickels and dimes.
My second job was unpredictable: Two or three times a week I played my fiddle while a school friend, Chummy Turner, played guitar for square dances. Chub enjoyed the dances. At midnight someone passed a sweaty hat to the men on the dance floor, and most of them dropped in loose change - nickels, quarters and dimes.
Chummy and I seldom made as much as $2 each at dances during those Depression years.
One night when we were playing at a small house that had been vacant for several years, someone idly pulled a long strip of old wallpaper off the wall right by where Chummy and I were seated. We were in the middle of a dance, but someone yelled, "Bed bugs! Let’s get out of here!" I quickly got the violin and bow in the case, slung my wraps over one arm, and away we went. No hat was passed and no refreshments served.
Chub and I were great pals during those seven years of platonic friendship. We saved a little money in a joint postal savings account.
We both realized that later we’d be husband and wife, but not yet. We bought a used car, a Pekingese dog, a good set of woodworking tools and a better car together before our four-day wedding trip in December 1937.
Plato, the early Greek philosopher, defined a similar relationship more than 2,000 years ago: "Love, between a man and a woman, that is purely spiritual or intellectual and is without sexual activity."
We were married 62 years before Chub’s death in l998. Our daughter was born when I was 35 years old and our son when I was 37.
A week ago I was surprised to read this in a national publication: "Fellows and girls of late high school and early college ages are rediscovering dating! They enjoy talking with various people, going places in groups, planning parties and trips, discussing politics..."
I applaud those young people who discover dating!