The Love of Homer’s Life
We live in a throw-away world. Stuff today does not last the way stuff used to last. We’re always on the hunt for the next technology which promises to make our lives better or entertain us at a higher level. Remember 8 track tapes? Cassette tapes? VHS or Betamax video tapes? Those recording formats and the equipment which recorded and played them are not even sold in retail stores anymore. And when there’s something new we toss the old (or store it in the garage or attic).
Sadly that same mind set leaks into relationships where we see 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce. We stand and make promises and then something we think is better comes along and suddenly all is forgotten. I had the joy recently of putting a book together with my daughter, Amanda.
(Link for the book: The Giving Grandpa).
It is a book describing her wedding from Dad’s viewpoint and there is chapter which talks about her ancestors. We even found some photos to include. Homer and Lettie Miller are mentioned in there along with the historical fact their marriage lasted 63 years.
Did they ever argue? I am pretty sure they did because Grandpa called his tool shed the Pouting House and he told me it was where he went when he was mad at Grandma. Of course he always had a twinkle in his eye and a hearty laugh when he shared juicy tidbits like that.
How did Homer and Lettie meet and fall in love? I learned what I am about to share sitting beside Grandpa Miller on his front porch. I invested a lot of childhood hours there listening to adults talking back and forth. One day, for whatever reason, it was just me and Grandpa. And he wanted to talk about his past. I was all ears.
Grandpa was a corporal in the US Army during WW I. His boots were on the ground in the liberation of France and he shared a few stories about being in the army which I will save for another chapter. Grandpa survived the war although he was injured and lost some of his hearing when a shell exploded near him. But he made it home. Let me include a thank you to the families out there who lost a loved one in an American war. I can sit in freedom and write my story because men like Homer put it all on the line and many gave their very lives. Freedom is anything but free.
So what was on the mind of a young man returning from France to the USA at the end of that war? Well, according to Grandpa, there was definite set of goals with two taking the top positions on the list:
1. find a job
2. find a woman.
Now Grandpa was an old timer and he saw those two as related items – a man needed a job to provide for his wife and future family. Working was about survival, not gathering material goods or amassing wealth just to pile up and show off to the neighbors.
Grandpa worked for a lumber mill. I believe from my research it was the Elk River Coal and Lumber Company in Swandale, West Virginia. That great state was once covered with old growth forests which were clear cut to feed the expansion of our nation and someone had to get that wood processed into lumber. It was a tough job then and still is today.
Homer Miller’s supervisor was a man named Ira Starcher and Mr. Starcher had daughters. I have two of those and I have to say accepting the idea boys would be hanging around my daughters was not something that came easy to me. I wanted to pump the slide on my shotgun and yell, “Git!” in my meanest voice when one got too close. Now take that mindset back 90 years and from what I remember about Mr. Starcher he was as set in his ways and stubborn as men came. Be that as it may, one day Homer had his heart smitten. He was twitter pated and the object of his affection was none other than Mr. Starcher’s oldest daughter, Lettie.
Grandpa’s eyes lit up as he remembered his first vision of Grandma and he gave details from memory like it happened yesterday. Lettie was washing clothes. She was under an apple tree working those clothes up and down on a washboard and Homer was captivated, completely, totally, and forever. Now I will leave it to the reader to form mental images of that scene but from Grandpa’s expression of joy in bringing that memory up and sharing it, I am pretty sure Grandma was a knockout.
As Grandpa told the story he recalled that Lettie would not give him the time of day and her father was not too keen on the idea of one of his workers courting the daughter. But Homer never gave up. And in the end, he won Lettie’s heart.
They were married in the Starcher home by Rev. Lewis E. Black, April 22, 1920 with Ira and Cora Starcher, the bride’s parents, serving as witnesses to the proceedings. I understand it was a double wedding with Uncle Lakie and Aunt Grace (Grandma’s brother and sister-in-law) sharing their vows at the same time.
My wife and I are newlyweds. We’ve only been together for 30 years and I am often reminded of Grandpa and Grandma’s marriage. It was a union that lasted through the ups and downs and ins and outs of life. They stuck together and made it work.
Stuff lasted back then.
(#8 in the picture may be Homer Miller but I cannot be sure)