How Are the Seats?

My service in the U. S. Army during World War II brought me out of the shell in which I had lived as a child and teenager. I was twenty-three in 1946 when I reentered civilian life.

A character trait that my parents had build into me still survived, however; that of being severely practical. My mind controlled my life much far more than my heart did. Getting back to work as soon as possible seemed to be the logical thing to do. After a short stint at the American Locomotive Company, I was fortunate enough to get a job in 1947 at the huge General Electric plant in Schenectady as an Engineer’s Assistant. The job did not required a college degree and, though the title sounded elegant, it was a clerical position.

My duties in this job required that I identify renewal parts required by customers for General Electric switches. In this work, I needed to peruse blueprints. I would order copies of these drawings by phone from where they were stored in Building 4. A young woman would answer the phone and I soon learned that her name was Sally. I’d give the number of the blueprint and she would make a copy of it on a blueprint copy machine and send it to me by General Electric internal mail.

As time went by, Sally and I became more friendly and we engaged in a few moments of amiable chitchat whenever I needed copies of blueprints. Sometimes, when work was slow, I’d order prints I didn’t need simply for the pleasure of speaking to her by phone. I liked the sound of her voice and wondered what she looked like. In ordinary conversation, I had learned that she was young, short, thin, and blond haired. I began wondering how I could meet her in person. My newly-acquired feelings of self-confidence did not include the quality of boldness.

One day, I told her that I owned a 1941 maroon Lincoln Zephyr sedan that I was very fond of. She said she’d love to see a picture of it. I didn’t own a camera at the time so I drew a sketch of it and sent it to her by internal General Electric mail.

The next time I phoned, she said she had received the picture and liked it. “It’s very pretty,” she said, “but how are the seats?” I took this as a hint that she might accept an invitation for a date and I suggested we have a date so that she could evaluate the seat for herself.

We had our first date in 1949 and enjoyed meeting each other. It was a pleasant Sunday in June. Magic was in the air. After a few more dates, my heart took over and I popped the question. We agreed to be married after she had turned twenty-one in September later that year.

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