Mother graduated from Manhattan High School in 1931. She was vice president of the senior class. She played first violin in the school orchestra. I am privileged to have her violin, which she gave to me decades ago, but, sadly, I never heard her play it.
My father and mother met at Kansas State College, where they both attended. He took a course in geology and enjoyed it. He would like to have majored in geology, but unfortunately a major was not offered in that subject, and the school steered him to go into engineering instead. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Mother’s major was music, and she was a member of Delta Delta Delta social sorority. They met at a school basketball game. He was sitting behind her and her friend, and he thought she was cute, so he threw popcorn at her to get her attention – the beginning of a life-long loving relationship.
Mother and Dad were married on June 8, 1935, at eight o’clock in the evening. An announcement written by Charlotte Mutschler in the Society section of a local newspaper included the following information: Mother was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Henry Irwin, and Daddy was the son of Mrs. Petrea Christina Towner of Dwight, Kansas. Because of impassable roads to the country home of the bride’s parents, the ceremony was performed at 804 Moro Street, Manhattan, Kansas, the home of Miss Alice Melton, my mother’s cousin.
Dr. C.E. Holman read the single ring service, and the bridal party stood before the large bay window with a background of roses and ferns. Mother’s sister Alice Irwin was her maid of honor. My father’s brother and only sibling Gordon Towner was best man. A composition by Fritz Kreisler, played by Miss Ruth Grice of Victor, Colorado, preceded the ceremony. Miss Grice played Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March,” as the couple and their attendants entered the room, and she played “To a Wild Rose” during the ceremony. Mother wore a navy blue suit of silk crepe with cape sleeves lined with striped taffeta seersucker. Sweet peas and pink rose buds formed her shoulder corsage. Her sister wore a blue suit with a corsage of yellow rose buds. A reception followed immediately after the ceremony. Those present at the wedding and the reception included Mother’s parents Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Irwin, from Manhattan; Daddy’s mother Mrs. P. C. Towner; Daddy’s cousin Miss Jennie Marie Madsen from Dwight; Mr. and Mrs. William H. Burch and son W. H. Burch, Jr. from Fowler; Mr. and Mrs. Hal McCord, Jr., from Topeka; Miss Ruth Grice from Victor, Colorado; Mr. Phil Glunt from Garrison; Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Roper; Mr. and Mrs. William B. McCord with daughter Eleanor and grandson Jimmy Hayslip; Mr. and Mrs. George McCord; Mr. and Mrs. Hal McCord, Sr.; Mr. Max McCord; Mrs. Warren Keller; and Mrs. C. E. Holman.
Mother and Dad spent their wedding night at the Hotel Sunflower in Abilene, Kansas. The hotel was established in 1931 and described itself on the receipt as “New and fire proof, radio and circulating ice water in every room.” It was an Art Deco concrete and red brick structure and was considered a grand hotel. All rooms were furnished with radio, electric fans, telephones, and reading lamps. It had a coffee shop, drug store, beauty shop, turkish baths, bowling, billiards and a ballroom. [Hotel Sunflower image] Mother and Dad stayed in room 608 at a cost of $3.00 a night.
After their Hotel Sunflower wedding night, Mom and Dad drove to Edmond, Kansas, where Daddy was stationed while he worked for the state highway department.
Daddy was in R.O.T.C. at Kansas State, and soon after they were married, he went to R.O.T.C. camp for six weeks. This delayed their honeymoon to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for two years and two months.
Daddy received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Kansas State in 1938. That year he went to work for Humble Oil Company in Houston, Texas. In 1939 he went to work as a supply clerk for National Oil Field Supply Company in Wichita Falls, Texas. He also worked for a geophysics company on the Texas coast for about six months. That company wanted to move him to Iraq or Iran, which he did not want to do, so he quit his job and went home for Christmas. He worked on the Denison dam in Texas; then went back to work for Humble, where he worked for one day, before receiving his orders to report for military duty.