Yes, it’s me again. I have always liked writing personal columns, especially when I could be Erma Bombeck-y about it. I love making people laugh.
Back in the olden days, when I was much younger and working for the “other” paper, I wrote two of these a week, plus two editorials and and a bunch of news stories. I wrote about my daughter who had just graduated from Fayette County High and headed off to West Georgia College, my dogs and cats, living the single life, and amusing things that happened along the way.
Now, even though I’m your religion editor, I am definitely not an expert on the topic of religion, so I will not write about that. I may work religion into my topic somehow, but when I write, it will be a personal topic.
I have never written about my husband, God rest his soul (you notice how I worked that religion thing in?), and we only had ten short years of married life. He died in 1972. But since we were both first generation career military (well … he was career, not me. I was just a military wife.), there was never a dull moment.
His name was David Maurice Kilgore, “Butch” for short, and he was an amazing and wonderful person. He grew up in southwest Atlanta and attended Southwest High (class of 1958) before heading off to North Georgia College (now the University of North Georgia) where we met in the fall of 1958.
But let me back up a bit. We discovered after several conversations that we actually had met several years before at a ballroom dance class in West End. He was 13 and I was 15. I, of course, was a sophisticated sophomore at Russell High. He was a mean, nasty little kid that I could hardly stand to be around. After the classes ended, I promptly forgot about him. How was I to know that was the person I would later marry? God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?
Four years later, it was literally love at first sight when we spotted each other on that crisp, fall day in Dahlonega. He was walking from the Canteen (campus watering hole and hang out) back to his room in Sanford Hall; I was walking from Lewis Hall to the Canteen with my friend, Thelma Cheek (now McLeroy), and they stopped to chat.
Huh? They? He was talking to Thelma and not me? Who was this gorgeous hunk of manhood she just casually started a conversation with? They talked. I waited to be introduced. It didn’t happen. They said their good-byes and he continued on to the canteen.
“Thelma! Who was that?” I quizzed.
“My little cousin and you’re going to leave him alone!” she snapped.
Now, let me interject a little explanation here. In high school and college, I was of a … umm… shall we say “flirtatious” nature? Boyfriends came and boyfriends went. Sometimes just on a whim. Thelma didn’t want him to be one of those who “went on a whim.”
Yes, I was bad.
I am also conniving when I want something. So I found a way to get that introduction (found out later he would have done it if I hadn’t — it truly was love at first sight on both sides) and we started stalking each other.
You remember how that goes, don’t you? You get his schedule and try to be where he will be between classes and at a certain time, just so you can casually stroll by and say, Hi.” But I kept missing him. Found out later he was doing the same thing with my schedule. We finally ran into each other after classes at the Canteen and were able to sit down and talk. I wonder how many marriages that Canteen is responsible for?
We had our first real date when we went home for fall break and that did it. We were officially a couple.
We were an example of perfectly matched opposites. He was the calm, peace-maker; I was the fire-breather. He kept me from spouting off my mouth; I lit a fire under him when it was necessary. And we loved each other dearly.
For three years at North Georgia, he was a member of “B” Company. I was very proud to have been elected Sweetheart of Company B my senior year. I think it was because of Butch, not me. Everybody liked him. I was the spitfire, remember?
We got a lot of kidding from our friends because neither of us was very tall … he was 5’7” and I was 4’10” … they called us the “Tom Thumb” couple and said our kids would be born without any legs or feet. We didn’t care. We were in love.
My mother loved him from the moment she met him. His mother and I got along like a snake and a mongoose. However, after he died and a few years passed, we became close. I loved her dearly. I miss being able to pick up the phone and call her. She passed away in 2008.
Butch was smart, good looking and athletic. He played football both in high school and in college. North Georgia didn’t have an intercollegiate team but each company had a football team and the rivalry was fierce.
We dated steadily for the next three years ( yes there were rocky places … aren’t there always?) and in May of 1961, shortly before my graduation, he gave me an engagement ring. We planned to be married as soon as he graduated in June of 1962 (remember, he was almost two years younger and a class behind me).
But fate has a way of changing plans. Next time — the elopement and getting used to miliary life.
Judy Kilgore is the religion editor for The Citizen. She lives in Newnan with her cat, Minerva.