On a winter day in 1942, 18-year-old Ruth Adrian and three girlfriends were spending the afternoon at the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco. While riding the Eugene Friend Carousel they spied a group of sailors. It being less than two months after Pearl Harbor, there were probably lots of sailors in San Francisco waiting to ship out to the Pacific. This particular group happened to include a young Texan named Doug Huggins who had been on the USS St. Louis, survived to tell about it, and was in San Francisco waiting for his next assignment.
One of the girls, possibly Ruth, suggested that perhaps if they all looked at these boys long enough, the sailors would notice them. Eye contact was made and a conversation struck up. The afternoon ended with the boys going back to the girls’ apartment to play cards. This led to an agreement to go out to dinner en masse.
But first Ruth decided she would go up on the roof of the building to hang up her nylon stockings on the clothesline. Doug gallantly volunteered to accompany her. Just in case. After all, it was war time. In the course of hanging the stockings, Doug admitted he had an ulterior motive. He wanted to ask her if she would be with him at dinner. It seemed like a good idea to Ruth.
He was cute. He was funny and he seemed kind. And he could quote from the Bible. She hadn’t dated many boys who could. They saw each other a few more times in the five days before he shipped out to Bora Bora. She said she would write and she did. He wrote back. He returned to San Francisco twice more that year and then on December 13, 1942, he lied about his age to a judge in San Jose and they married, having spent less than a month face to face, but falling in love by mail.
Immediately following the ceremony they took a bus downtown to a photographer to have their wedding portrait made. The honeymoon was a night in a San Francisco hotel. Then they both went back to work, he on a minesweeper and she in the office of a shipyard.
In case you were wondering, Doug and Ruth Huggins are my parents, and they just celebrated their 70th anniversary. Congratulations, Mom & Dad. I love you both very much.
(This post is a rerun. My dad passed away in 2016. December 13, 2021 would be my parents’ 79th anniversary.)