A Tiny First Abode

[Warning: content includes multiple appearances of the word “tiny.”]

After our honeymoon at Six Flags Over Texas, Rick and I moved to San Angelo, Texas, where we both planned to attend Angelo State College. Instead, Rick took his first job in banking as a bank teller, and I enrolled in Angelo State College with a major in German. We lived in San Angelo from September 1969 to January 1970, and there are only three things that stand out in my mind about our very short stay there:

1) Rick and I saw the movie “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice.” It was a weird feeling being married and not having to abide by “parent rules.” Going to see this risqué movie seemed like something I should not tell my parents about. I realize this is a strange memory to hang onto. I can’t explain it.

2) I met an old girlfriend of Rick’s. She was working the teller window at a local bank when Rick and I drove through. She smiled at Rick and blushed.

3) Last, but not least, our first apartment made a lasting impression on me.

Our first residence was more like a stucco tourist court than an apartment complex. It was a very small u-shaped complex. Our tiny apartment was probably less than 400 square feet, and I believe the rent was about $60 per month, including utilities. It was barely furnished with a plastic couch, a double bed, a chest or dresser in the bedroom, an old refrigerator, and a Formica-topped kitchen table just big enough for the two chairs. It had linoleum tile floors throughout, and one air conditioner in one of the windows. At night we could hear everything going on through the paper-thin wall between our bedroom and the bedroom of the single man next door.

Everything about our apartment was tiny: a tiny living/kitchen and a tiny bedroom with a tiny bathroom and an even tinier closet. It was the original “tiny house.” The tiny and already very old refrigerator was probably no taller than five feet. Its single pull-latch door opened up to the refrigerated section and a tiny shoebox-sized freezer with one lonely metal ice tray.  Just a little frost accumulation in the shoebox freezer kept the single ice tray from fitting into the freezer, which meant it was time to defrost…or move. This is when I figured out how to use an ice pick and a hair dryer to defrost a freezer. The tiny kitchen got used a lot, because we couldn’t afford to go out; however, my challenge was that I only knew how to cook a couple of things: chicken and rice in gravy, and pork chops and rice in gravy.

On the longest living room wall, Rick built a trendy wall unit bookshelf with cinder blocks and lumber he painted black. It was the nicest thing in our apartment, other than the six-year-old portable black and white TV which I brought from home. I don’t remember watching TV much, but Rick watched football games whenever possible.

About four large steps from the front door through the living room was the opening to the tiny bedroom. The tiny bedroom closet held almost nothing, so we bought a rolling metal floor rack for hanging clothes and set it against the back wall. I barely remember the bathroom. The only thing that was NOT tiny in our first residence was a huge crack running along the floor at the base of the back bedroom wall. It came with the apartment at no extra charge. The two- to three-inch-wide fissure ran the length of the ten-or-so foot wall. I stuck a long piece of coat hanger wire in it once and never felt the bottom. I sprayed it every day with bug spray.

While Rick’s parents were away on vacation once, we kept their poodle Pierre. He was a good dog and liked to sleep on the bed with us. One night, I awoke to the incessant and annoying sound of what I thought was the dog licking himself. He wouldn’t stop, so I sat up and turned on the light to see if he was ok. I looked at him, as he returned my puzzled stare. Rick was still asleep, but Pierre and I sat very still listening to the strange sound. I got out of bed to investigate and stepped into cold ankle-deep water rushing through the bedroom. That’s when Rick woke up. The water flowed from the front living room wall, through the bedroom door, to the far side of our bedroom, and finally down into the abyss at the back wall of the bedroom. If it hadn’t been for that bottomless crack, I believe we would have been up to our knees (at least) in reddish-brown water. We called the landlord (who also happened to be the county sheriff and definitely looked and acted the part), but we were not able to reach him until the next morning.

The problem turned out to be a rusted out old pipe outside our front door. The living room and bedroom were entirely flooded. The water mixed with the red West Texas dirt made it a challenge to clean up, which we had to do ourselves with no help from the sheriff/landlord. All I could say was, “Thank goodness for the linoleum floors and the big crack in the floor.” We didn’t have any real valuables, so there wasn’t much to ruin – only a few books and record albums that were on the bottom shelf (the floor) of the cinder block shelves. We were not compensated for our trouble and didn’t have the courage to challenge the sheriff about the incident.

While exploring San Angelo on Google Maps, I was surprised to stumble upon what I believe is our old apartment (see featured image). The location generally fits with where I thought it was. I’m fairly certain this is where we lived, but it didn’t look this good. Our door was the last one at the back of the right wing, facing left. A current real estate Internet site indicates the pictured apartments were built in 1959, which fits my timeline; but it also means they were only ten years old in 1969. I guess the West Texas climate and dirt age things quickly. I’m very surprised but a little glad the building is still there and looking better than ever.

A Plain and Simple Wedding

My college sweetheart Rick and I were married in a double-ring ceremony in 1969 at Irwindell Methodist Church in Oak Cliff. Honor Attendants were Saranne, my maid of honor and good friend since seventh grade, and best man Carl, Rick’s good friend from Texas Tech.

I made my wedding dress using a Vogue sewing pattern. It was made of bonded white crepe, which I modified slightly by lengthening the back and replacing the short sleeves with long slightly belled sleeves of white lace. In place of a veil, I made a hood with the same white lace as on the sleeves of the dress, tied with a satin ribbon. It was a beautiful dress, and I did a very stupid thing when I got rid of it after Rick and I divorced.

My colors were blue and yellow pastels. My maid of honor made her dress from the same original short-sleeved pattern as my dress but in baby blue, and she held a yellow bouquet of flowers. The flower girl was my precious four-year-old niece Denise (we called her Neesy). I made her dress, too, which was a yellow A-lined dress with a yellow lace overlay. It was a tad too small for her, but I don’t think anyone noticed. My dad’s brother Gordon was my “official” photographer.

Rick and I purchased our wedding rings from Everts Jewelers, a prominent jewelry store  in downtown Dallas. I think Daddy knew the owner or manager. As a wedding gift, one of Rick’s uncles generously contributed toward the purchase of the rings. My white gold ring set included a small but nearly perfect one-fifth carat brilliant cut diamond solitaire engagement ring with a matching thin band. Rick’s plain polished band was also white gold.

Following tradition:

Something old – my grandmother’s opal and garnet ring, its band worn thin from wear on the underside

Something new – my dress

Something borrowed – a mother-of-pearl Bible borrowed from a friend (a white orchid held on top by a white satin ribbon)

Something blue – a blue garter under my dress

Not following tradition:

Something metallic – braces on my teeth, which I had been wearing for almost three years.

A reception followed the wedding ceremony at the church. As it was about to begin, Daddy stood up on a chair and announced there would be a slight delay while someone ran home to retrieve the guest book which we had forgotten. We had wedding cake, punch, and coffee, but no champagne. After the reception, I changed into my home-made “going-away” clothes – a gold brocade vest worn over a plain beige dress with peasant-style sleeves and neckline.

We made haste for our honeymoon destination – Six Flags Over Texas! We spent a day at the park and a couple of nights in a very small room at the Spanish Inn motel near the park. We then returned to Oak Cliff to see my parents for a few days, then moved to San Angelo where Rick and I planned to attend college.

It was a plain and simple no-frills wedding. Expenses were minimal but probably still a lot for my family at the time. I was the last of three daughters for Daddy to give away, which must have been sad for him and Mother but a relief for them at some level.

 

1969 Aug wedding Tina
At the church before the ceremony
1969 Aug 30 Mama Tina wedding
With my mom before the ceremony
1969 Aug Mother of pearl Bible and orchid
Mother-of-pearl Bible with white orchid, in lieu of bridal bouquet
1969 Aug 30 Daddy Tina walking down aisle
Walking down the aisle with Daddy
1969 Aug Wedding party
With wedding party: Saranne, Carl, and flower girl Denise [bride in braces]
1969 Aug 30 TinaRickMamaDad wedding
The newlyweds with my parents Pat and Jim
1969 Aug Bill Tina Rick Charleen 1969
With Rick’s parents Bill and Charleen
1969 Wedding TinaRick going away
Going away…and there’s that darn train case Rick spilled all over the Lubbock airport terminal lobby when he picked me up after winter break at Texas Tech in 1969
1969 Aug wedding SpanishInn honeymoon
Honeymoon motel in Arlington, Texas, then on to Six Flags Over Texas the next day