Nancy Julien Kopp
Copyright 2020 by Nancy Julien Kopp
thought Storyhouse readers might enjoy the story of my parents’
elopement back in 1938. The photo was taken in 1942, and yes, that is
me in the middle.
parents eloped on May 31, 1938 in a Chicago suburb. Still the
Depression era, but that wasn’t the reason Garnet Studham and
Gin Julien didn’t plan a church wedding. They had no choice
since Garnet’s mother and two brothers didn’t like this
man she’d been dating, and they let their feelings be known.
heard the story so many times that the entire elopement seemed as
real as watching a movie with my own parents the main characters.
whose real name was Alfred, made the arrangements for the wedding
with a Justice of the Peace. On a Tuesday evening, he drove his
little coupe to pick up Garnet. She came running down the walk before
he could step out of the car. She wore a red linen dress, her short,
reddish-brown curls bouncing as she ran.
drove the few blocks to the J.P.’s home. Gin’s hand shook
a little when he rang the bell. A woman in a house dress answered and
ushered them into the small living room of the bungalow, where her
you want to do this?” he asked, and Gin and Garnet nodded their
flowers, no cake, no bridesmaid or groomsman. The woman who answered
the door would be the legal witness. No music, no guests, no flower
let’s begin,” the J.P. said. He opened a book to read the
words that would bind Gin and Garnet together forever.
shrill ring interrupted the short service. The witness scurried away
to answer the phone while the others waited.
for you,” the woman said to her husband, “About the
fishing trip tomorrow.”
went the book and away went the Justice of the Peace. He had his
priorities, and apparently, this quick wedding wasn’t high on
that list. The wedding couple heard all--where he was going to fish,
what time he planned to leave and who was picking him up. After he
boomed, “See you in the morning.” The JP returned, mopped
his head, retrieved his book and finished the service. Money changed
hands, signatures on a document sealed the marriage, and the
newlyweds were ushered out the door with a hurried “Congratulations.”
starving,” Garnet said as they walked, hand in hand, to the
little coupe Gin drove.
pecked her on the cheek. “I know just the place.”
went to a favorite bar and grill. Garnet ordered spaghetti and Gin
said he wasn’t hungry, but he continually tasted bites of the
pasta that sat in front of his new wife.
thought you weren’t hungry,” she teased. Weeks later, she
learned that he only had enough money in his pocket to pay for one
dark, Gin drove his bride to her mother’s apartment. Garnet
kissed him and then walked slowly to the red-brick building. She
spent her wedding night alone in her single bed, afraid to tell her
mother or her two brothers what she’d done. And like every
other Wednesday morning, she rose long before dawn to work in her
mother’s small bakery.
the next six weeks, Garnet met Gin as many nights as possible for
short dates. He urged her to tell her family. The only family he had
left were two sisters, both married, but he hadn’t told them
either. Garnet kept delaying, first by days, then by weeks.
Confession would bring undue hurt or might unleash a storm when her
brothers found out.
morning, during a break at the bakery, Garnet sat with her mother at
the oil-cloth covered table, sipping a cup of steaming hot tea and
nibbling on a sweet roll, fresh from the oven.
warning, her mother set her cup down hard and spoke in a voice laced
with anger. “You’re married, aren’t you?” Her
mouth was set firmly, no smile to be seen.
could only nod her head. Words stuck in her throat. How did her
mother guess the secret? Garnet’s cheeks burned.
mother said, “You’d better go live with your husband
then.” No warmth, no congratulations, no joy.
cringed from the stinging words. Regret for hurting her mother,
relief that the secret had finally come to light, and excitement
about joining Gin for good—all these washed over her in one big
wave. She packed after work and moved to her husband’s tiny
never did discover how her mother uncovered her secret. Forgiveness
was slow, not coming until I was born, exactly two days before their
first wedding anniversary. Garnet’s two brothers reached across
the hospital bed that day to shake Gin’s hand while the new
grandmother held me close. This time she had a smile for all.
Julien Kopp is a Kansan, originally from Chicago but has lived in the
Flint Hills of Kansas for many years. She writes fiction, creative
nonfiction, memoir, inspirational, award winning children’s
fiction, poetry and articles on the writing craft. She’s
published in twenty-three Chicken Soup for the Soul books, other
anthologies, newspapers, ezines and internet radio. Her blog about
her writing world with tips and encouragement for writers
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Another story by Nancy
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