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Story ID:8740
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Cobleskill New York USA
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By Fred Wickert

I have a niece named Sheila. She is the daughter of my middle sister. Sheila was a very pretty teenager with long dark red hair, sparkling blue eyes, freckles and a smile that could win over anyone. She had her share of boy friends I've been told, although I only met one of them. I met him at Grandma's 99th birthday party. I understand he didn't last to long after that.

I was in the Air Force for twenty years and didn't get to see much of Sheila over the years when she was growing up but my wife, Tae and I were kept informed and were interested. When we met the aforementioned boy friend she was a senior in high school. By the time I retired from the Air Force she was in college.

We began hearing about a boy she met in college that she was really interested in. She said he treated her like a lady and was always a gentleman around her. He was considerate and polite and treated her with respect, and she liked that. None of the other boys in college were like that.

It seemed that any hopes she had of getting to know this guy better, were not going anywhere as it turned out, he was engaged to get married. I don't know if it was that dazzling smile or what, but the next thing we knew, this polite young man had broken his engagement and was seeking dates with Sheila.

Eventually, another engagement was announced. Sheila had accepted the proposal of this young man. First, Sheila had to finish college and get her degree. He in turn, decided he needed a Masters degree and had to go one more year in college.

Finally, college was over and degrees were in hand. Plans for a wedding began. Sheila introduced Tae and I to the young man. His name was Bob. In my early years before going in the Air Force I had done a lot of singing and had studied with a professional voice coach. I never sang when in the Air Force, but had begun singing again on a small scale after retiring from the Air Force. The voice is gone now and that is over, but at that time I could still do it.

Sheila and Bob came and asked me to sing at their wedding. Her aunt's daughter had become a music teacher and was going to play the organ. She could play for me when I sang. They wanted me to sing eight songs. I had been the singer at other weddings, but never more than two songs per wedding. Well, Okay. I could do eight. I don't remember all of the songs but I do remember three. One was The Lords Prayer. One was Because. The third, they threw me a curve. It was their song and I had to sing that one. They just had to have it. It was their special song. I can't think of the title, but remember well the melody. It was a John Denver hit and that was a problem. John Denver is a tenor and I was a baritone. Parts of the song were to high for me to sing comfortably.

The organist lived in a town not to far away and I did get to practice with her once so we could get used to each other. The rest of the time I practiced with my Mom at the piano. I learned the John Denver song and with a little strain could pull it off. The other songs were not a problem. A couple of days before the wedding I came down with a cold. I coughed a lot and my throat was not in good shape. I took a lot of honey and lemon juice to soothe my throat and sucked many a Sucret cough drop.

The day of the wedding came. I was going to do my best, no matter what. I didn't worry about the other songs, just the John Denver song. When the wedding began, I was still sucking cough drops in between songs. When it came to the John Denver song, my voice cracked at the highest notes but I don't think anybody noticed. If they did, they never mentioned it. There were at least two recordings of it and when played, they didn't sound too bad.

The wedding was beautiful and long. Another couple was waiting outside the church. They were going to get married and whoever scheduled did not count on Sheila's wedding taking so long. Finally all went outside. Bob and Sheila were now Husband and Wife. We all got in cars and went to Borealis Restaurant for the reception.

Bob and Sheila after their honeymoon went to live at West Nyack, NY, where they got jobs in a book binding company. They went there to be close to Bob's parents. Tae and I had gone to a dog show in Westchester and planned to stop and see them on the way home. Unfortunately we blew an alternator. It was after everybody had closed. I spotted a police officer nearby and approached him. I identified myself as the Police Chief of Middleburgh, NY. I explained my situation and he told me to follow him. He took me to a garage that was closed for business but there were some guys inside working on a race car. The officer talked to them for a few minutes, then came to my car and told me they were going to help me. Then he asked if I would write a letter to his chief and praise him for his help. I agreed. I not only wrote the letter to his chief, but also wrote a personal thank you letter to him in care of the department.

They did not have the part that was needed and had to make a number of calls to find one, and then go get it before they could install it on my car. When repairs were completed I did not have enough money with me to pay for it. He allowed me to go on home and trusted me to mail him a check, which I did the next day. It was late at night by the time the car was fixed so we just went on home without visiting Bob and Sheila.

I told Bob to treat Sheila right or he would have to settle with me, and he has. He has been a good husband, a good father and a good friend. I don't remember whether it was 1974 or 1975 when they got married, but they are still happily married after all these years. Sheila, you made the right choice, and so did Bob.

Please visit my website at www.fredsstoryroom.com