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May 21, 2022: My 50th Wedding Anniversary
Daily Diary, Day 629:
Today my husband, James Jacobs, and I are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, and I decided to use the pictures below of these five stainless-steel mixing bowls as an illustration for the post celebrating this occasion.
Not only are these bowls the only wedding gift we still have after 50 years, it also occurred to me that they are a perfect symbol of what has made our marriage such a wonderful and long-lasting one.
First some back story.
I met my husband at Oberlin college in the fall of 1969. We were both assigned to the same lab section for the Geology class were taking. He asked to borrow some lab equipment, and we both felt an instant attraction. As a result, I finagled a seat beside him on the bus when the section went on a field trip, which gave us hours to get to know each other.
On the surface, we couldn’t have been more different. I was from a middle-class midwestern suburban family, with a rather mediocre public school education, and my parents were quite liberal (active in the civil rights movement, political reform, and feminism.) My future husband was from the South, had gone to an elite prep school, and his parents were quite conservative regarding such issues as race and gender.
Yet, somehow, coming from these different backgrounds, we’d ended up very similar in terms of values and beliefs. We discovered these shared values quickly, as I told him about my experiences that summer in Washington DC. I had taken classes (and lived in a dorm) at Howard University (one of nation’s premier traditionally black colleges) so I could take courses in African-American studies that weren’t offered at Oberlin.
He, in turn, told the story of how he ended up living in the newly-opened African-American men’s dorm. He speculated that when he asked for a single (not easy to get as a sophomore) someone in the housing department thought that since he was from Atlanta, Georgia, he was either African-American, which he wasn’t, or he would turn the room down, which he didn’t. Instead, he had been delighted to discover that the man in the next dorm room was a fellow jazz aficionado, and they were becoming best friends.
On that bus ride we ended up pretty much agreeing on all those important issues of the day, as well discovering a shared a sense of humor that included appreciation of the comedy group Fire Sign Theatre. Brazen hussy that I was, at the end of the field trip, I used this comedy group as an excuse to invite myself over to his dorm room that evening to listen to their records.
Within a few weeks we were in love and inseparable.
I graduated that spring, (while he still had 2 more years to go) and I started a masters program at Kent State, which was just a little over an hour away from Oberlin. This meant that I spent at least every weekend back at Oberlin. Then, that summer, he moved in with me while I finished my degree. His senior year we lived together in a room he rented in an old Victorian house in Oberlin (which would become the model decades later for the O’Farrell Street boardinghouse.)
From that summer on, we have never been apart for any length of time. In fact, until the summer of 2020, when he moved up to Washington for five months to help out our daughter and grandsons in the early days of Covid, we had never been apart for more than two weeks at a time.
And back in 1972, we had no plans to be separated when he graduated from college. I had a temporary part time job in Oberlin, enough to support us, and we both needed to decide what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. However, there was just one problem, his parents had announced that they were coming to his graduation. Unlike my own parents, they didn’t know (and would have been upset to discover) that we had been living together. Should I move out? Or should we get married and chose to get married right before the graduation, figuring that way they couldn’t expect to attend his graduation because this would be our “honeymoon.”
As you might guess, ever practical, just like those stainless-steel bowls, we did the latter. We already knew we were committed to being together for life, and we personally didn’t feel the need of a ceremony or a legal document to prove that fact. However, we also knew that it would be a kindness not to force his family to deal with something that might have made them very uphappy.
So, on May 21, we got married from my parents’ house in Pittsburgh and his family attended. The wedding ceremony was simple. There were his parents, sister and brother-in-law, and their three children, and about an equal number of my family members. The short ceremony was held in the living room of my childhood home. Jim and I sat on the fireplace hearth and read poems to each other rather than speaking any formal wedding vows. The presiding minister was one of the first female ministers in our regional Presbyterian Synod and was nursing her first daughter during the ceremony, and I suppose she must have said a few words at the end. The wedding cake was a carrot cake and everyone threw brown rice at us as we took off to return to Oberlin that afternoon.
All went well, although I suspect that his parents were very puzzled by everything connected to the whole event, including my decision to keep my own name and not wear an engagement or wedding ring.
The next day was Oberlin’s graduation, and while Jim didn’t participate in the ceremony, we had fun wandering up and down the line of graduates, saying our good-byes to friends. The commencement was outdoors and the speaker was the folk singer, Pete Seeger, who sang rather than make a speech. Fit right in with our wedding. That, and watching a great Kurosawa Japanese movie on TV, was our honeymoon.
This is where the bowls came into our life.
We were about to move out of our single room into the small attic apartment, and what we desperately needed was practical things like kitchen equipment. Consequently, we asked people to give us money in lieu of wedding presents. Then we went out and bought what we needed and sent thank you notes mentioning what we had bought with their gifts. I don’t remember who we thanked for those bowls, but they were definitely the best gift we got ourselves.
I love these five bowls. Like our marriage, they have a quiet beauty to them, particularly in how they nest together so perfectly. They are made of identical material, but they are also different, their varied sizes fitting them for different purposes. For example, the smaller bowls are good for whipping eggs or cream, while the larger ones are perfect for holding a pound of spinach to wash or rising bread dough. They are also versatile and we have used them for everything from making meals, to soaking a stain out of a piece of clothing, to serving as a water bowl for a dog. They also work well together, as do my husband and I, and we often used all of them in preparation of an entire meal.
And perhaps, most importantly, while these bowls have had gotten a few dents here and there over the years, like my loving marriage, they are virtually indestructible. And that makes them the best gift of all.
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