Courtship and Marriage in the 1950s

Reader Contribution by The Mother Earth News Editors
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This is the seventh story from Ruth Zwald, written by her father, Robert Zwald, and submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear. She compiled her father’s stories in his own words, and they are posted in eight parts. Read the other parts:1900s Farming in Washington County Minnesota; Growing Up on a Farm; Catching Frogs for Money; One Room School House; Borrowing Against Life Insurance, Changes in Agriculture and The Wisconsin Farm.

Married Life
Well, in 1950, I was 33 years old and thought I was old enough to get married – but mostly because I met Mary Agnes Kosbab. We met at a dance at the German House – Whoopee John’s music. She seemed everything a guy could want and she proved out to be. She was an attractive person with a pleasant smile. She was a good dancer and neatly dressed – not all “made up”. She looked like she needed someone to have fun with.

I remember bringing her home to meet my Mom and Dad. I remember going to her house and fooling around with her younger brothers and sisters. We did many silly things during our courtship. We would go canoeing. And once Mary got shot in our woods!

We were married on June 27, 1951 at Peace Church at Forest & Reaney Street in St. Paul, MN. This is the same church where I was baptized and confirmed, and later where our 3 children would be baptized, also. I was too nervous to remember what the minister said that day – but I do recall that it rained hard all day and cleared up that night. For our honeymoon, we went to the Ryan Hotel in St. Paul at 7th and Robert Streets. We woke up the next morning hearing pigs squealing on their way to South St. Paul stockyards.

We fixed the upstairs of the Lake Elmo house for us. My folks lived downstairs – not a good situation, but Mary made the best of it. Mom’s little boy wasn’t hers anymore, but Mary and Dad got along great. He loved her, I’m sure, seeing he lost his own daughter. Then came our family – two boys and a girl. Gregory Charles was born October 5, 1952. Robert Fredrick was born December 5, 1953. Ruth Marie was born January 28, 1956. Should have had more.

Photo from Ruth Zwald: Bob and Mary at Mounds Park in St. Paul, 1950. The Mississippi River is in the background.

Please send email submissions toLetters@MotherEarthNews.comwith the subject line “Elder Wisdom” or send mail to: attn: Heidi Hunt, Re: Elder Wisdom, Mother Earth News, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609.