My parents had very strict standards of appropriate courtship behavior. Some were objective: No dating till sixteen. No expensive or personal gifts. No gifts of clothing. Tasteful gifts included inexpensive perfume, flowers, and books. Some were just common sense: These are the ones that gave me trouble. Don’t even ask to go on a picnic for two or swimming. (Raging hormones) Don’t ever accept a ride from a boy without parent’s permission, even if you’ve been in class together since first grade. (Raging hormones) No phone calls after 8:30 pm. (Disrespectful to parents) Don’t ever go anywhere other than place in original permission.(Being picked up by tornado on way home from church might be excused.) No visiting in homes if boy’s parents are known to drink.
Completely out of the blue, Phyllis was surprised to find she had attracted a very unlikely admirer when she was fourteen or fifteen. Rudolph was in his late thirties and “not just right.” He lived with his old mother in a shacky old house not too far from us. He didn’t have a job, just worked their little farm and did odd jobs whenever the neighbors asked his mother. Rudolph had never spoken to Phyllis, nor anyone else as far as we knew, though he’d obviously seen her. We were watching “Gunsmoke” one Saturday night about eight o’clock, when there was a knock at the door.
Billy answered the door to find Rudolph holding a beautifully wrapped box, asking for the “big girl.” Daddy flew to the door. Rudolph thrust the box into Daddy’s hands, saying it was for the “big girl.” Shocked, Daddy thanked him, apolgetically telling him, “My daughter isn’t old enough to court.” He was nonchalant, as though accustomed to getting packages for his teenaged daughter from the strangest older guy in the neighborhood. Rudolph turned and trudged back across the street to his house. Daddy called Phyllis from her room, showed her the gift, asking her if she had any idea why Rudolph brought it to her. She was obviously humiliated at the unwanted attention and refused to even open it. The rest of us were dying to see what Rudolph brought, so we tore into it and found lacy undies and chocolates. We made short work of the chocolates!
Outraged, Mother wanted Daddy to return the inappropriate gift to Rudy. He refused, saying,” Rudy didn’t know what was right. He won’t be back.” Phyllis threatened any of us who ever dared tell about Rudy’s call on her. I didn’t care about her threat, but Daddy backed her up. That was the beginning and end of their courtship. This is the first time I’ve dared tell.
A few weeks later, Phyllis lost out when Rudy married a woman his mother got him from a lonely hearts club. Myrtle and her two behemoth sons, Fred and Little Floyd hitchhiked down from Minnesota for the nuptials. The happy couple renamed Little Floyd, calling him Little Rudy after his new daddy. They were a happy family for a couple of weeks until Big Rudy found Little Rudy finishing off the last of the hams in the smokehouse. They were thrashing it out until Mama Myrtle whacked her new husband in the head with a hambone. She and the boys left that afternoon, thumbing it back to Minnesota, Little Floyd even plumper than when he arrived.