An Interview with Marcel Lauper, age 77
April 23, 1989, at San Leandro, California
by Julie Lauper and Karen Danielson
edited by David Peterson
Marcel Lauper: You have to kind of structure this.
Julie: Yeah, yeah, we've heard a lot about your growing up years from your other brothers, so we'd like to ask you about your personal life – your mission, the jobs you've had in the Church.
Karen: And how you got the furniture stores going.
Julie: And your hobbies and high school, so you could start with just a little bit in high school, like what kind of things you did or participated in, sports, you know.
Marcel: Is this on now?
Marcel: Oh, it is on. Well, for land sakes, I'm addressing the tape now. I was addressing the tape before, and I didn't realize it. Last week I was in Florida, and [I had] a video recorded for business down there and I found it was extremely difficult. I thought I could speak, but I noticed I couldn't get the words out in the right timing. It was supposed to be a 30-second audio advertisement, and I have it in there. One day, when I dare, I will play it through, but right now I have two pretty grand-nieces, Julie and Karen, and we're sitting in my house at 948 Evergreen on April 23rd, 1989, and we have, I have, a rousing good fire in the fireplace.
This is a very, very good step in the right direction for you pretty girls, my next of kin, to come and do this because, as time goes on, why, they become more valuable. Long after I'm dead and gone you'll still remember this little visit on a Sunday afternoon-evening. Your smiles are so pretty -- oh, it's pitiful -- Julie's grandpa [Ralph Lauper] taught me that when it's so pretty, it's "pitiful". Anyway, I wish my kids would go into this, preserving family history.
Now I'm going to swing back half a century and ah, well, it's more than that, to my high school days, when I went to Delta High School [in Delta, Utah]. I was, let's see, the extracurricular activities were, ah, not like these girls; they have music and cheerleaders and so forth, these girls. I was on the forum for public speaking and I did whip Cliffton Boyack. Later, he did better after that than I did, because he became the president of the Church College in New Zealand and stake president and a lot of fancy things and the assistant superintendent of schools across the Bay and on the peninsula. But in high school, I whipped him in the oratorical contest.
Actually, my father would have us thin beets in the summer time and top beets in the fall and so after I'd maybe start [school] for two weeks in September, I'd miss one or two months. I'm making excuses now, because I wanted [to be] a Rhodes scholar and I was not the Valedictorian, however, I still had the gift of gab, and Mr. Nelson, my science teacher, assigned me to give one of the most important talks there at graduation. And as I say, Mabel Sampson had higher scholastic record, but she couldn't speak worth a darn, but she did get the honors and she was valedictorian. What do you say when it's a girl, is it still valedictorian? Anyway, I gave the history of education and Scott Nelson, my teacher, had me start it out: "About 50 million years ago, our old world was just getting a fair start..." I remember that and I didn't realize the longevity of this billion-year-old planet. Anyways, I went on and after the talk and closing of that exercise, why, Superintendent Huntsman came up to me and said, "Marcel that was masterful, masterful." Of course, I have to remember these few good plugs I got in life, because I don't have very many of them. So that's in high school: "masterful, masterful." And I still want to believe him! Then Scott Nelson came up and grabbed me and hugged me and said, "If I would have known that, I would have given you an A+ all year long," but he hadn't; I was a barely a B- or something like that. However, like I say, excuses, excuses.
We had to top beets and so I was resolved to quit high school. That would [have been] horrible, but I didn't. My friend Que Glenhill drove the school bus and we'd meet each Sunday in church and there I was always looked up to him a little bit because I was a goody two-shoes. I was the president of the deacons, president of the teachers quorum and assistant to as-high-as-you-could in the priest quorum. But anyway, this one year I decided I'd missed a month-and-a-half and I couldn't wrestle with those kids doing algebra and all that stuff. I was not too bad in math, but in history and geography, I was a dumbo. Que Glenhill, my buddy, told me, "Oh you can make it up, you're smart." So, he would keep giving me these talks and he was right there driving the school bus and he'd give me a nickel candy bar every day because he would want to have a friend to eat the candy bar with, so he gave me a loaner and I still owe him. He's gone and dead now; he killed himself at age 43. I wish I had been around him so that I could have kept him alive. Anyway, Que got me going back to high school and I did go and graduate and get the approval of my teacher, Scott Nelson, and Superintendent Huntsman, and then I left shortly after that.
We left Sugarville [SMALL town outside of Delta] and went to California and I was the one that was assigned to the railroad car to depart Sugarville and, well let me see, we brought down five or six livestock, horses and cows. Among them was that little Trixie that Dennis, Ralph and I brought in with her mother from the desert. Imagine this, for you city kids what it sounds, but we were on the perimeter of the desert and Ralph, Grandpa, and Dennis went out and rounded up these horses [running wild on the desert]. Then they finally decided to bring in the mare and her little colt and they corralled her and then they found, low and behold, to their consternation, that she [the mare] was branded, so immediately they opened the gate and let the mother run back to her desert space and kept the little colt.
Among the other things [to load on the railroad car, we had] a bunch of junk we had from Sugarville. Imagine, oh my land! Right now though, an old broken wheel would be a good sight-seeing object here. If I had a couple of those old wheels now and a single tree I'd adorn my place with it! Anyway, it was all junk really. I had a barricade or a plank up on either side of this railroad car so to keep the cattle from jumping out, but I did have them contained [with] feed there. And [here I was], a little freckled-faced boy of seventeen with red hair; I had red hair then. There I'm leaving Sugarville and the locomotive came out and picked me up, all loaded down, and by the time we got just out of Delta, I looked up and a guy was waving to me and speaking to me from the top of this [neighboring] railroad car. Now we were in motion, we were headed for California, and he asked if he could come down. You know, that wasn't the day when you were hearing all about somebody stuffing you in the car trunk and killing you. In that day and age like that was, it was a little more trusting. So I said, "yeah," he could come down, so he climbed off while we were in motion and came down and joined me. He [asked], "Could I also bring my friend? He's on the roof too." I said "ok," because I didn't have any fears then; he could have slit my throat! But anyway I had used them from there to California and they milked the cows for me. There was one time when I was off getting a hamburger, when the train stopped at one place, and this one guy, this one hobo (these were two hobos), he said, "Well, the train brakeman came and asked about how things were going and I told him everything was alright, so I let him think I was in charge of the car." And he said, "Was that alright?" I said, "Yes, that's alright." The other guy, his hobo friend that came off the roof second, he was from Denmark so we had a great old buddy-buddy time because my mother was born in Vejle [city in Denmark]. So, here we had a few days en route from Sugarville/Delta and then onto California and those guys, those hobos, rode with me until we got well into California and then they disappeared. But they would milk the cows and drink a lot of milk and I got them a half a dozen hamburgers at that place and they were grateful for it. I don't think they robbed me, but nowadays, they would slice your throat, but anyway, these two hobos rode with me... that was a trusting day and age!
When I hit Los Angeles, why, at the switching yards they lambbasted my car into another one and they would hit them hard. This one time the cows broke through the plank that was dividing us into different sections, and there I was bleeding, with a cut over my eyes and on my lips and I was bruised and battered. Nowadays, that would be [cause for] a suit against the railroad, I mean, gosh we could get $50,000 or $100,000 for that because the guy [was] injured. But, no, no, when the guy came there, they were just bouncing me back and forth, back and forth, and I just braced instead of [like I would do] nowadays. Instead of talking to him as I am now [where] I would have scolded him and they would have thought I lost my religion because I would have excoriated them to great, great length, [instead], that time, why, I thought it was manly to [say], "No, no, I'm not hurt," and blood pouring down my..., "No, no, that's alright. I'm ok. I'm ok." And he said, "Oh that's terrible!" He says, "I'm going to put you on a side track. It shouldn't have done that." Like I say, the railroad missed a good suit.
However, that night I could not milk the cows and their utters were just real full, and boy, they needing milking, but I had been battered back and forth so many times. I had a kind of a spring up there, the old fashioned kind of spring, and it was suspended from the roof or the ceiling of that car, and I would crawl up there and went sound asleep. He put me on the side because he could tell that was going to be a suit against the railroad, because there I am bloodied and bruised, battered. By that time the hobos had left, and that's when I just went sound asleep after that beating, and I slept all night, did not milk the cows, did not feed the horses.
That little Trixie was now a riding horse/pony, and I had taken her out in the plowed field where she couldn't buck and Dennis mounted her. So we trained her and she never did buck because when your four legs are down in a foot or half-a-foot of dirt, you can't buck. So we just treated and led her along, and Dennis rode her. Now, I had her with the other livestock in the railroad car. I guess the animals were also badly bruised, too, but they crashed into another car and almost buckled, but now he put me off to the side where it was calm. I just climbed up on that spring and went sound asleep and the next morning there I was in Camarillo, a little town, [with] the sun just peeking over the horizon. I went over to James Restaurant, and the only thing that I knew how to order was a hamburger. This was 6:00 in the morning, so for breakfast, a little seedy guy from the country, [had] a hamburger, but for dessert, raisin pie a la mode. That was my breakfast.
Julie: How old were you when all of this was going on?
Marcel: Seventeen, just graduated from high school. Now, I looked out and this was pretty little Camarilla [apparently, back then it was often called "cam-uh-ree-uh" instead of like today, "cam-uh-ree-oh"]. [When] I woke up, I was quietly there sided near the depot in Camarilla. I started pulling the horses out and I asked where the strawberry acres are, were, and I walked up there, and I took a couple of horses with me, [including] that little Trixie that Dennis and Ralph had rounded up from the desert.
(They would charge the kids a quarter for taking a ride [on Trixie]. Let me tell you, a quarter was a big piece of money in those days. Little old Trixie was there in Camarilla and finally they sold her. Dennis was older, and he sold Trixie and the last we heard she was on the stage in a vaudeville [act].)
So actually then, we settled in, and it was "ages" before the rest of the family came on down. I was down there with my dad, but I was sick and tired of seeing him. I was wanting to see the other brothers and sisters. Finally after a week, and that seemed like no less than a year, they came and joined me and my dad in Camarilla. We lived in an old abandoned house, unoccupied I suppose, that my dad got for next to nothing, probably just to protect the property. But anyway, finally we did build a little two-room frame building on our five-acres, strawberry acres, and then we added a tent to it too, but from there is a tale... but we had strawberries...
Oh yeah, it's time now; I'll go fast.
Then one day I was the first missionary from Ventura district sent out. It was only a branch and a district then, but now there are several stakes down there in Ventura and Oxnard and Simi and Santa Barbara. Oh, there's lots of stakes! I was called to be the first missionary from Ventura, Ventura district, and that was called Northern North of Los Angeles because there were no stakes outside of Los Angeles. I went to Denmark and served 34 months over [in that] dear land, and Janelle [his daughter] went 50 years later and she served 18 months and probably did more good than I did. I was high-point man during my mission, with 8 baptisms, but John [his son] told his companion down in Ecuador that his father was high-point man with 8 baptisms during 34 months. His companion, a precocious kid, said, "Let's beat your dad's record this week," so they did. John baptized over 250, but he said a lot of them left the Church, and some of my 8 did too, but some of them did not. Now, a member of my ward now went on the boat with me over to Denmark and he was there [at church] today. Let's see now, what do you want to have me do? Do you want to have me come up to date?
Julie: Yeah, I wanted to ask you one more thing about your mission, wasn't it Brother Sorensen who put you on your mission?
Marcel: Oh, yes, Uncle Julius Sorensen that blessed man, blessed memory. Actually. he was my great uncle because he was my mother's uncle Julius Sorensen. He told me "Marcel," he still spoke with a little Danish accent, "if you do a good mission [and] don't spend too much money, why maybe I'll be able to send somebody else. I need them there blessings." And he said, "Aunt Lida, she was against the whole thing, but she gets credit for it, too. You know anything that I do, it's her money, too." That was a generous thing, impressing me early in life that it should be what husbands [do]. I hope your husband will say, "Look, it's part of my wife's contribution, too."
It was $24 or $30 dollars [per month]. When I needed a bicycle, I'd ask him for $30 for a month or two, but that was the thing, and he would, even though he supplied my transportation over there. [That] was just a $1000 or $1100. In those days, it was a little less. We paid more than that for Janelle's 18 months. He was a good guy, and as I say, Aunt Lida was against it. She thought that she should have a little for her own sons and own grandchildren, but she didn't regret it later on. She came to me and she made me eat my mush, germane [wheat cereal] or oatmeal, and she said, "You're going to have to do it over there," so she just stood over me and watched me in misery, because that's all we [often had to eat] in Sugarville. My kids don't allow me to say "mush"; they want me to say "oatmeal".
Let's see, I went to Denmark and sailed the seven seas in 1935 and [on my way I stopped in] England and tried to get Elder Merrill, who was President of the European mission, to let me stay there and go visit a family that my brother Ivan had worked with. He told me to go right across the North sea, which was a rough, choppy waters and he told me to go right on and I said, "No, I've been sick on the way over here from New York to Liverpool and they tell me that's a choppy sea and it'll be terrible and I'll be maybe dead." I pleaded a strong case, but he was a tough old schoolmaster. (He was President of the Brigham Young University at one time.) He just kept saying, "No, you'll go on, you'll go on. You'll go on and you'll be just fine." And doggoned it, I was almost to swear at the sea because when I crossed it -- this is a choppy sea -– you can read about the North Sea from England to Denmark -- and the thing was without a single ripple: it was just made up! That boat just cut a line through there, and so help me, there was not a single wave, not a ripple, it was like a stagnant swamp when I went over and I thought, "Oh, the Lord has to do all of this to prove that Elder Merrill correct and prove me wrong!"
So, I went over and saw that they gave us lots of good food – among other things, [there] was smoked eel; I didn't tamper with that, but I had lots of and I always liked the Danish food; they're great gourmets. But anyway, I went over and landed in Esbjerg and at that time, why, I had Alma L. Peterson [as mission president] I [am] bragging when I tell you [about this compliment], because I didn't get many of them. So, President Alma. L. Peterson... we were holding a youth convention in Odense and I was the president of that district and he said that there are a lot of good missionaries... of course there were! (Let's see your brother [Karen's brother Brad] is going to go to Charlotte [North Carolina], and there will probably be two or three hundred in a mission there; the highest we had [in Denmark] was 65.) But he said there's some good missionaries in this mission and they're doing fine work, but the outstanding missionary in the Danish mission today is Elder Marcel F. Lauper. Then I got emotional and couldn't give a good talk because I thought they were better than I. But anyway, when I was giving my little talk, I had a little twig, a little plant and I said, why in California we have lots of orange trees and if you plant them properly and nurture then and cultivate them they will grow up tall and produce many good fruit.
Oh let's see, President Peterson [had] sent me to Odense and said you're the last missionaries that we're going to send in there. If something doesn't happen, we're going to close it down. Anyway, in uh, we [the district] had uh, fourteen baptisms in six months and when my wife and I were there, let's see, maybe 12 or 15 years ago, why they long since had a nice chapel like we have here. But it stayed open, and as I say we did baptize 14 in six months and the district and the branch, now I guess it's a ward, stayed open during these many years. Oh, I didn't tell you that I'm going back to, uh next month to, my high school reunion – 60 years. 60 years. Right now, this is "foggy junk" to you, but the moral of the story is to enjoy your life when you're young because, I mean, who knows if you'll be able to go back to your 60th reunion? I mean, it's just almost unthinkable! I just passed up my missionary reunion – the 50th, but ah, the high school, this woman that's arranging it said most of them are gone and she's counting on me heavily, but she says that she's not going to handle the 70th, but anyway I'll be back there. I have tickets to the banquet – 60 years. So, actually, I lived to tell the tale. So, many of my missionary friends and more of my school graduates are gone, but they have a place in the cemetery.
Mark McGarf came and replaced President Peterson and I had some very good experiences with him and now the poor guy has been [in the hospital]. He [is] only four years older than I. In his twenties, he was the youngest Mission President in the church at that time; he'd only been there just a few years before. Now, they sent him back as mission president, married and had one child. In the last six or seven years he's been hospitalized and is about in the same condition as your Grandma [Karen's grandmother, Alice Lauper Brown], so he just keeps praying, and when I go in there he says, "Give me a blessing, Marcel." And he wants to either get completely well or die. Your Grandma says that too, and we'll be seeing her tomorrow, and I'll be telling her about you and you sitting here on this sofa allowing me to spout off, but uh, lots of good experiences in the [mission]...
Julie: So, what happened to that man?
Marcel: Oh, well, President Garff, he was your Grandpa's [Julie's grandfather, Ralph Lauper] President [in 1939] and he was evacuated when the war started. He [Ralph] was one of the last ones to come out of the foreign missionaries.
President Garff, well, he made me president of the Aalborg district and some people still remembered me when Janelle [Marcel's daughter] went there 50 years later. They [some local members] had sent off the previous district president and they thought they were going to do it with me, but President Garff put his foot down and wouldn't allow it. He said, "Repent, repent" and he took the two letters and sent them a copy, you know a letter to each one of those, and he said, "Repent, repent, immediately or I'll have you excommunicated from the Church. I'm not going to have this young Elder go home disappointed because of your needless persecution." And he told me that they shipped off the former district president and sent him back to America, and then they said, "Send this one back to America, we don't need him, he's not fitting in," and so forth. He told me that he looked at their records and not one of them was a tithe payer, but two of them had made contributions. He got the names of the two, though, and this one was called on a local mission there to serve in Denmark and he couldn't take it, and he [President Garff] excoriated him but really good because he said, "You, yourself, couldn't take it and do what these valiant young Elders are doing and you had to go home, but don't you try to disrupt the missionary service any more or I'll excommunicate all of you."
I told the President I'd had a cheerful[?] night. I couldn't sleep that night because we held a meeting and these fourteen just went out like Indian runner ducks, and they all left and went to another place and held a meeting, and then they wrote the letter to get rid of Lauper [with] some of the complaints they had. I thought some of the Elders could have been a little more forceful, because you had to grab the knife by the handle. Then President Garff came to Aalborg and sent me a copy of these letters, and then he had the missionaries there, and there were a lot of them, quite a few of them for those days, and he said, "Elder Lauper didn't make any accusation against your Elders," but he did say [to the other Elders], "You could have been a little bit more courageous at a time that he really needed you." Now, he said, "Let me tell you Elders, now listen carefully, because I'll transfer every single one of you out of this district if I ever hear that again." After he left, we held another meeting, and now I had become the same as a bishop, or I'll say the branch president, of the Aalborg Branch. Elder Lee was an honest graduate from Moscow University in Idaho, and he was conducting the meeting. He said, "Elders, you heard what the President said, now do any of you have a comment?" Then, Elder Scheme, one-eyed from ah, I think he was from Idaho too, or one of those Wyoming states, and he stood up and he said, "I have one thing to say, if Elder Lauper says throw them out, throw them out." And then he sat down.
One of the Elders became ill there in Aalborg and the president came and took him back to Copenhagen so that he could give him better care. He had appendicitis and a blood clot that killed him. He was sent home in a coffin and his parents and sister became kind of bitter. The Elder that was with me, that now is a member of my ward, went home with his body.
So, on the 5th of May, 1938, I was released with an honorable release and I was prepared to go home and begin to look for pretty girls like you.
[At this point, Marc breaks the narrative with an aside about how remembered sitting in Sacrament Meeting, at the missionary farewell of Julie's brother Michael (in 1988), with Karen's brother Brad seated next to him. Marc played "matchmaker" by writing notes to a couple of girls seated nearby, causing them to blush and giggle, asking them if they would go out with these two guys after their missions. They agreed. Marc's intention was to keep the girls out of trouble while waiting for the missionaries to return...]
I went through Germany; didn't see Hitler, but saw Goering, and in Berlin, Hitler had just come back from seeing Mussolini. Have you ever heard of any of these people? Well, you've heard of Hitler... [Julie and Karen: "yeah"] And that's the biggest fireworks I've ever seen, and I've seen some good ones, California and other places and uh, that was the best fireworks I ever saw. They had Unter den Linden [main avenue] decorated especially for Hitler's return and I couldn't get back to my hotel until 2:30 in the morning because there was not a streetcar that had a place to stand on or hold on, or a taxicab. It took me that long to get back to my hotel. Those Nazis could have stamped me out. In another place, Nuremberg, I thought of goose-stepping through those nice young fellows, but they'd run me off the sidewalk and off the street. They were cocky, nice young fellows, "duck, duck [noise of marching]."
Yes, then I came back to, let's see, I came over on the Washington [ship] and returned from England on the Manhattan and they were the two fastest cabin ships owned by the United States in that day and age. Then I landed in New York and went up to visit Viola's friends in Connecticut and I saw my first fields of tobacco. I didn't realize that they were growing it up there, but they were in Hartford, Connecticut, and I saw her friends that she was in love with. One of them had been a missionary in California and she loved his brother. I had an enjoyable time up there and then came to Utah. Oh, I flirted with a girl from Des Moines along on the train and she wrote to me for a long while. She was the "Palmer method." Fifty years ago it was a good handwriting and she was Palmer method. She was just perfect and she could write an invitation and you could sell it. I made friends with her and wrote to her for maybe a year.
When I got to Utah, I met my cousin Ada Phillips (she later became Robinson), but oh, let's see, I was going to say she [visited] in this house, but not hardly, because by that time, my wife was the queen of the home, but in Oakland where we lived, she came down [to visit]. Now, that was her son that just came [visited earlier on the day of the interview] and I was going to take him and his wife and four kids out to dinner. I'm at the age when I have license to forget things, but then I did think of you girls [coming] and just before I took them on out, [I remembered]. So they departed and they're starting back for Utah. (My wife was just as glad.) But anyway, that was [what I remember of meeting] Ada Phillips Robinson, and she was single then with a pretty voice.
Julie: What about meeting Frances?
Marcel: Oh, that was incidental. This guy in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, he was in love with Frances, Frances Barney, and his name was Max White Simpkins. Was his name Simpkins? [Frances: No "p", "Sim", "Sim", "Simkins"] He was in love with Frances, the only thing was that he had already promised himself. This is the intrigues of love. I know you're going through that, both of you girls now, but I still remember it and don't think that these love affairs that you have now are insignificant -- you'll remember them all your life. I was telling my daughter Margaret and she says, "It still hurts doesn't it, Daddy?" Yeah, but anyway, this Max White Simkins was in love with Frances, but he'd already promised Norda, a Utah girl, that he'd marry her. He didn't think to tell Frances that he'd already obligated himself, but he'd wanted to do something to ease his conscience, you know, because he was having a great time there in the Chicago area. He went to church at the University Ward where she was the secretary in the Sunday School and so forth, and anyway, he just kept telling me about her. I said, "Oh, she's probably ugly," and he said, "No, she is cute, Marc, oh, she is cute." I said, "straggly hair," and he said, "No, she's just the kind you want: a little brunette and pretty eyes," and so forth. He just kept bragging her up and I said, "Well, she's probably as wild as a March hare and unfaithful to the Church," and he said, "Oh no, that whole family is active in the Church; her father's the branch president, and oh, she always goes to church." I said that she probably had an accent and I couldn't stand to marry anybody with an accent. "No, no, she has very good diction; very, very perfect." And well, he just kept on bragging her up and he said, "You ought to go there." I said, "How old is she?" "21". I said, "Oh, she's too young, cause I'm 12 years older." "No, you don't seem too old." And he just kept on selling me on going back to Hammond, Indiana, and seeing this Francis Barney. This other girl there at the base said, "If you'll make more passes on your passes, you'll get married." He just kept on selling me hard and I decided to fly on over.
I got on a flight on the route that we had to forecast for that area and so I went over with this brigade. We were about half-a-dozen in this bomber and landed in Chicago, and low and behold, the snow fell and it grounded us, so none of us were AWOL. Instead of being an overnight flight, for five days we were snowed in and I worked fast. We went out to dance with Lawrence Welk (of course, you kids have probably never heard of Lawrence Welk, but he did the Champagne Music). So, we were at the Trenenan [hotel?], and we went to see Sonya Haney dance or skate. She was the world's best, and they would give us tickets to anything there because there are so few servicemen in that Chicago with four million people. She liked sailors a little better than she liked Army, but I was attached to the Air Corps and that was a little better. We went to Sonya Haney in the big ice rink. We were on the front row and holding the bar, right there, and Sonya Haney did most of her stunts and acrobatics right in front of us. There were only a few, maybe 20 or 30, servicemen and thousands of people in that place.
So, we did a few things like that, and as I said, I had to work fast. I actually went back and not only shook hands with Max White Simkins, but I put my arm around him. Since then, well, once in a while I feel like punching him in the nose, but most of the time I'm grateful. So, from that Max White Simkins' urging, why now we have Susan (I talked to her and her husband today), and Margaret (I tried to call her a little while ago), and Diane (I'll call her in a few minutes) and then John Barney (I talked to him twice last night -- he's in Stockton), and Janelle (I called her last night). So we keep in touch, but that Max White Simkins started all that.
She [Frances] wrote me every day. She was very attentive in those days and every day I would get this nice little pink letter and it would be on my bed. Of course, in the army you had to make your bed every day and you couldn't leave it like that one there [points at bed in the other room], but it had to be done tight. Every day for all those six seven months, there would be a pink letter, and of course, it would buoy up my spirits.
Julie: How long were you guys engaged for?
Marcel: For, I'd say, five or six months, but we only had two dates, really. Of course, that famous five days back in Chicago when we were snowed in. Why, I used every moment of the time, but then I had one more date with her when, of course, I asked her to marry me. Her words were, "You can't be sure." I was telling her a lot of fancy stuff, but she said, "you can't be sure." I did use the Alice Dewer book, the Alice Dewer Miller book, "The White Cliffs of Dover". It says in one place there, "Lovers in peacetime, with 50 years to live, have time to tease and quarrel and question what to give, but lovers in wartime better understand the meaning of living with death close at hand." I drilled that into her that we could work a lot faster, not like you kids who can lolly-gag along for ages and years and years. Then, there was an urgency and you had to move fast, and she fell for it.
She wanted a little excitement, and this other guy was down in Florida; he had been changed there. She's sick and tired of it, so we set a date for a May 18th in the Arizona temple. She was about to turn around and go back when I did jump on the train at Tucumcari, in New Mexico, because that was our rendezvous. I knew that the train was not going to leave without me because I was eating lunch with the Engineer! Finally, we got going and then President Grant died and his funeral was on the 18th, so we had to change it to the 19th, May the 19th.
It's going to be 44 years. Let's not say that everything is just peaches and cream, but let's say I'd much rather be married than not married, I'll tell ya. I'd had a long life of lonesomeness and [I recall] this woman that was the last speaker of the Know Your Religion Series and she said, "Everyone, everyone, everyone, has challenges and problems." We returned to that temple 39 years later when Janelle was playing ball down in New Mexico. We stopped at the temple, but ah, let's see, Max White Simkins started it all and I think that's enough.