Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankful for our veteran's love stories

Some of the best love stories involve military backdrops. My own family of origin wouldn't exist without the military. My brother and sister-in-law met in the Navy. My mom and dad met in the Army, and their love story could come straight from the pages of...Playboy? LOL. Yes. It's one of THOSE stories. So, let's go straight to that one. (grin)

My mom was a remarkable woman. I want to give you some of her backstory first. She was raised Quaker on a farm with 11 brothers and sisters. As you probably know, Quakers don't join the Army. Because passivity is part of their core belief system, they're considered conscientious objectors. So, how on earth was my mother in line on the first day women were allowed to enlist in the military? Simple answer, World War II. Complicated answer...or maybe it's simple too, she was a rebel from the get go. Apparently her family was so used to her defying convention, they just threw their hands up and said, "Oh well...that's Nellie." She was in love with flying and got her pilot's license even before the war. I know...nuts for a woman at that time, right? Well, she was a regular Amelia. As soon as she graduated from high school, she got a job in "the big city," Muncie Indiana, to support her dream of flying. So she had a valuable skill when the Army needed it. Unfortunately, she only had a high school diploma, so she was trained to be a cook. Hiding inside that farm girl was a brilliant mind as well as an adventurous spirit. Fortunately, her mess sergeant recognized her wasted talent and recommended her for OCS.

Now...I'm getting to the love story. My dad was an officer in the Army. He went to a military college and graduated 6 months early when the war broke out on Dec. 7th 1941. He had his own path that landed him at Ft. Reilly Kansas, but it was a little more predicable. Kind of...he was stationed in Texas, and because he was in the cavalry, it wasn't unusual to go for a ride in one's free time. Unfortunately, he saddled up the wrong horse. Unbeknownst to him (a rule follower) he rode the general's horse that day.
The man was so furious, he transferred my dad to Kansas. Turns out it was a lucky break...not just because that's where he met my mother, but also because his whole group from Texas was sent overseas and every last man was killed. Isn't it interesting to ponder how one change can result in many ripples? Anyway, back to our story...

Now, from the way they described it, the single officers' barracks sounded like my dormitory in nursing school. Two floors with men on the first and women on the second. A lot more men and many less women, for sure.

My mother, a lieutenant now, was just returning from a short leave, and in typical rebel fashion, she was smuggling a couple bottles of booze in for friends who'd asked for the favor. My dad, a captain by that time, caught her as she was about to go upstairs and asked to see what was in the bag. He said he wouldn't turn her in if she'd come into his room and share it with him. And there the romance began. Sweet, huh? LOL

I guess that's where I get my love for quirky romance. My characters are almost never completely "normal." Even in my contemporary romances (which are few and far between) my characters are far from typical. I think the more unusual they are, the more interesting they are. That's why I was a little frustrated with the heroine in my wip. She was too "normal." Instead of calling her Brandee, in my head, I was calling her Blandee. Anyway, I finally came up with a couple great quirks and now I love her.

How about you? Do you like quirky characters? Or do you prefer more typical girl-next-door types?

15 comments:

  1. My mother joined the Army to earn her citizenship earlier (she was Canadian), and met my dad (who was in the AF) as she worked in the PO, and he was a recruiter on the Army post for the AF. Go figure. :) She slyly remarked that she was from the west coast too when he got a package from Seattle. Her father had settled in Portland, OR and she was from Alberta. Not too many from the west coast were stationed in TX at the time.

    He was divorced and she had already dated a guy who wasn't supposed to be married, so she kept asking to see his divorce certificate. He never showed it to her, just was tickled by her insistence and would tease about it, not until long after they were married after a whirlwind romance of 3 months!

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  2. That's awesome, Terry! I love that your mom kept insisting to see his divorce certificate. Smart lady.

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  3. What a cool story! Your mom was an extraordinary woman.

    Wow on your dad's stroke of luck. I'll bet he was thinking that mistake (the horse) was going to end his career. Instead, it not only saved his life, it got him to the right place at the right time to meet the love of his life.

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  4. Thanks, Dalton!

    I told that story at his funeral and was surprised by how many hadn't heard it. I don't know if he was ashamed or what, but I think, like you, it was an incredible lucky break and I'd be telling the story!

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  5. I'll take the quirky lol. I like variety and true life stories are sometimes the strangest. Love your parents story. I know my mother-in-law also left home for the army - she had two brothers so was a feisty soul. What is funny is that she was only about 5 foot. She joined the army and they fixed the pedal with a block of wood so she could drive the vehicles. She also met her husband who was a lieutenant. I don't know how they met but I do know his nickname was twinkle toes lol.

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  6. He must have been a great dancer, Catslady!

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  7. Great story! I do love quirky characters, so much more interesting.

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  8. Your mom sounds like such an unconventional woman for her time. How wonderful.

    Quirky characters are great fun but I read depending on my mood so sometimes I want quirk and sometimes I want the normal every woman kind of character finding a happy ending.

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  9. Quirks! I've heard it said that the more believable quirks you give a character (or the more unique and believable the quirks you give him), the more broadly the character connects to readers.

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  10. Wonderful post. LOVED the story!Brings back memories!
    I've told this story before but it's a veteran's story so here goes: I was in high school in Oklahoma. Mr. B was in the Army, stationed in Germany. My best friend was engaged to his Army buddy so my friend and his were writing back and forth every day. This was pre-cellphone, pre-computer days when correspondence was by letter and an airmail stamp was eight cents. He sent home a picture of him and all these GI's (yep, in uniform) and I picked out the one I wanted. Two years later at the age of 17 I got on a Greyhound bus and went from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania to marry him. We were married six weeks later...and that makes me a mail order bride who is very grateful that Mr. B served his country or I would have never met him!

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  11. I love the quirky gal, she's so much fun :)

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  12. Grace, thanks for sharing that. I'd never heard it, but it makes sense.

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  13. Carolyn,

    What a fabulous story! That reminds me of how my aunt and uncle met, but I'll save that one for another day. So many wonderful love stories! I'm honored to be among the fabulous SB authors who tell them.

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  14. I like the characters to be a little different... it makes them interesting. I LOVE a tortured hero. I enjoy Laura Kinsale's characters... they are usually quite different. I would love to win your book! Thanks for the opportunity.

    bettysunflower at hotmail dot com

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  15. I love your Mom's romance story! Thank you for sharing it! Love the quirky, too!

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