How Did Your Parents Meet?

I’m always interested in how couples meet. Especially couples who have been together a long time.

I’m no longer surprised by couples who met in a bar.

I’ve stopped worrying about couples who met online.

English: A navy photographer snapped this phot...

A navy photographer snapped this photograph of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, just as the USS Shaw exploded. (80-G-16871) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my sons met his wife when she stopped walking down the street to watch him juggle.

They both now enjoy circus arts, such as walking on high or bouncy stilts.

The other son met his wife at a mutual friend’s party.

He brought her home to meet us two weeks later, the first of his girlfriends we’d ever met.

I met my husband when he called me on a mutual friend’s recommendation and we went out on a blind date.

How Did My Parents Meet?

My parents met in college.

My mother was a year older than my father.

As a Sophomore, she decided a good way to meet guys would be to teach a dance class, so, she signed up.

My father, a Freshman, and a good dancer, decided a good way to meet women would be to take a dance class.

Five years later, he married the dance teacher, my mother.

Their ceremony was modest. My grandmother was a widow who’d raised two children as a single mother.

My mother chose a day-time knee-length organza dress, far from the formal, full-length dress of my father’s sister, who married just a week later.

But, it was close to the dress of her other sister-in-law, who had secretly eloped with my father’s brother the week before.

My mother got permission to re-use the flowers in the Women’s League garden, where they married, from the wedding that took place just before theirs.

My grandfather took movies. I still have a copy of them, now on DVD.

The most copied wedding photo in the family was of my parents just after the ceremony, with my father laughing and grabbing my mother around the waist, telling her, “Stop talking. They want to take pictures.”

What Was Happening When Your Parents Got Married?

My parents married on July 27, 1941, months before Pearl Harbor on December 7.

When they married, they must have been aware that the U.S. was thinking about going to war.

Europe was being ravaged by Hitler. China and Indochina had been invaded by Japan.

Here was the timeline in the run-up to Pearl Harbor:

  • 1933:   Japan withdrew from the League of Nations after being condemned for conquering Manchuria
  • My mother was 16.
  • My father was 15.
  • 1937:   Japan attacked China
  • My mother and father were students at the University of Michigan.
  • 1939:   U. S. ended its commercial treaty with Japan
  • My mother graduated from the University of Michigan.
  • 1940:   Japan signed mutual-aid-if-attacked pact with Germany and Italy
    • Japan moved into Indochina
    • U.S. embargoed scrap metal, airplanes, machine tools from export to Japan
    • U.S. closed the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping
    • U.S. began to stockpile rubber
    • U.S. Congress authorized 70%/257-ship increase to U.S. Navy
    • My father graduated from the University of Michigan
  • 1941:   July 26. U.S. froze Japanese assets in the U.S.
    • My parents married, July 27, 1941
    • August 6. U.S. embargoed oil and gas from export to Japan. At the time, more than 80% of Japan’s oil came from the U.S.
    • December, 72 hours before the attack. Gallop poll found that 52% of Americans expected war with Japan; most thought “the United States should take steps to check Japan’s encroachments, even if it means risking war with Japan.”

My Army clerk father served most of his tour in Philadelphia.

However, an Army officer ran into him on the street a year after he’d run into him before.

“You’re still here?” he exclaimed.

Though being a clerk could be done anywhere, the officer considered it unfair that my father could go home at night to his family when so many soldiers were overseas.

He was shipped to Brazil weeks later, three months after my brother’s birth on August 5, 1944.

My parents’ plans to have their children spaced two years apart was disrupted by the fact that, since my father did not serve overseas until late in the war, he was also one of the last to return home.

I was born in 1947.

My father-in-law worked for the Goodyear Tire Company.

He remembers planning to get new tires for his car.

The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, car tires were no longer available. They were all diverted to the military.

For the duration of the war, he had to get his tires retreaded, and eventually replaced with poor quality synthetic rubber.

For my 16th birthday, my father had the topaz stones he’d bought in Brazil set in a necklace and earrings for me.

And, all because of a dance class.

Here’s to the 50 years of marriage my parents were planning to celebrate the year my father died in 1991.

How did your parents meet?

How did your grandchildren’s parents meet?

Do they know your stories?

To you and tying your stories to your grandchildren’s lives in the long web of life.


Click here to build your own or a family member’s timeline with historical events during their lifetime at

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Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

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