1972: the Okie and I

crossing the border

I never said so explicitly here, but the Okie and I were 19 and madly in love. After I got arrested, she lived in my parents’ house in Johnson City, NY, near Binghamton. Even reading about it in my journal, I still can’t figure out, “How did that happen?”

And because we were 19 and knew everything, we decided that maybe we should get married. We talked to my parents about it, as well as our family friends Betty and Jim, with whom we played cards. Of course, they all thought this was a terrible idea. Perhaps the conversation started making both of us a bit anxious.

The rules then, as we understood them, were that we couldn’t get married in New York State without the consent of a parent. Here’s an interesting tidbit. In the state of Pennsylvania, as of Tuesday, August 22, 18-year-olds can get married without parental permission.

The Okie and I traveled to Susquehanna, PA, on Tuesday, August 22. We saw a Dr. Davis, who took blood samples. He was having difficulty finding my vein, which distressed me. To Montrose, PA, the next day to get a registration form which asked questions like could I support my wife economically? We told Betty, who told us we should tell my father before the fact.

The day

Saturday, August 26: my sister Leslie wore a red and white pantsuit. The Okie wore the long dress she made last year. We put the cake that my sister Marcia had made, champagne et al. in the car. Borrowed a pair of Dad’s car, the pair I had broken buckles. I wore a Guatemalan work shirt and jeans.

We went to Montrose, which has inverted traffic lights. Got the license. MD has sent blood tests, and we don’t have syphilis.

Returned to Binghamton and went to my friend Carol’s house, where her then-beau Jon was already. Carol’s sister Annette questioned me on my reasons for getting married. Carol’s mother already knew about the plan, but her father was surprised and congratulated us.

Jon and I went to Hi-Fi Record Shop and bought a couple tapes, including Electric Hot Tuna. We went to the Justice of the Peace, one Norman O. Brummer, waited and talked about rain had stinted the corn. Finally, The Okie, Leslie, and Carol arrive. Norman’s wife was nice.

The Okie looked beautiful. She was, for lack of a better word, radiant. Jon had my ring, and Leslie had the Okie’s. We all went to the Skylark Motel on Vestal Parkway. Leslie took all the corny pictures (cutting cake, drinking not very good champagne.

The next day

After breakfast, we went to Betty and Jim’s house and hung out with their kids. When we got back to my parents, they were in a good mood, although I heard through the grapevine (my sisters? Betty?) that Dad wished he knew beforehand. We loaded the car and the next day, drove off.

You may wonder what the urgency was in getting married. From a reliable source, my arrest at IBM Poughkeepsie caused a bit of static for her father at work, IBM Kingston. Apparently, the “bad” behavior of his daughter’s boyfriend made his jerk of a boss make noise about Okie’s dad’s employment.

Moreover, if we were married, the Okie’s parents could treat me like a son-in-law. Us living together in sin would have been difficult for them to cope with. At some level, that was probably true of the Okie and me as well.

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