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Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

Over the course of the 39 years that I have been writing this column only once have I “scooped” the news. I do not consider myself to be a reporter, especially as the Record has many fine ones, but rather an essayist, making comments on the passing scene. The sole scoop came in the issue 30 years ago this week.

That column was written early on the morning of the 29th of June from a friend’s house where I was staying on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I wrote the item hastily inasmuch as I had a full day ahead of me. The subject of the piece was the announcement that I was committing matrimony that day at noon. 

The day had many overtones. I had met my Intended from getting to know her father and brother, who heard a talk I had given in France the previous year. Her father told me that he thought she and I might have some common academic interests, but he later admitted that he had not thought of romantic ones as being part of the prospectus.

I had given him my telephone number and told him that I should be happy to speak with his daughter if she wished to call me. Three months later, she called, and as she seemed to be an interesting person, I invited her to have dinner at my club in Washington. She accepted, and 15 minutes after we met in the lobby, I knew she was the one for me. It took a little bit longer, indeed, only several short months, for that insight to become mutual.

Our marriage took place in an as then unrestored 18th-century church that was air-conditioned by opening the windows, and the day was hot. The reception was under a tent on the lawn of her father’s home in Chestertown, and naturally the menu included Eastern Shore beaten biscuits, the classic staple of Eastern Shore cuisine.

Our honeymoon, in my old pickup, was to Niagara Falls, another classic, and I took her to see the Ontario town where my grandfather had been born. I explained that as folks in the Niagara Peninsula speak with the same accents and inflections that we do in the Northern Neck, people here took him to be a native, to the extent that he served for a couple of decades on the Colonial Beach Town Council.

We came home and began our life together. Fifteen months later the first B.E. arrived, and the second followed another 15 months thereafter, thus in 39 months we went from being strangers to a family of four. Marriage has been the greatest educational experience of my life, far surpassing anything I learned in the world of academe.

After we were married, some people said that they thought I was a confirmed bachelor, to which I always replied that I was neither a confirmed nor even a baptized bachelor; I simply took longer to find the right spouse. My lifespan resembles an hourglass, with family abounding initially, followed by the single years, and now truly abounding once again with a new generation of B.E.s. I say that they are keeping me young, despite my present patriarchal role.

I have written previously that the best marriage advice I ever received came not from the clergy, or psychologists, or sociologists, nor from reading or attending lectures, but rather from my banker, Florence Kellum. Her comment was not financial in scope, but instead was the result of her own life experience.

She said that she had found over the then three decades of her marriage to Tom, that the secret of a happy marriage was “one 100% give, on both sides.” Now into their seventh decade of marriage, I am sure she still would say the same, to which I only can add “Amen!”

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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