The Beginning of Us

The Beginning of Us

*A True Story*

The year was 1963… the year JFK was assassinated in Dallas, the first Beetles album was released, the cost of a Hershey’s bar was .05¢, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in front of thousands, The Birds and Cleopatra hit the big screen, and Elvis Presley, The Ronettes, and The Beach Boys could be heard on the radio…. but in the state of Kentucky, driving a black 1963 Chevrolet Impala Convertible, a young military man, who was stationed in Fort Knox, was driving around with a gorgeous girl riding shotgun. This was the second date the two had shared and their relationship was still in the beginning stages with each of them still getting to know one another, but there was just something about Wes that sparked Rita’s interest and caused her heart to beat a little faster each time they were together.

Their first meeting had been on a blind date, set up by her friend Peggy who begged Rita to go on a double with her, her boyfriend Bill, and Wes. The date had been sweet and lots of fun and when Wes asked her for a second date… she accepted.

Now, as she sat in the passenger seat of Wes’s beautiful car, she couldn’t help but think back on their night with a smile on her face. After seeing Fun in Acapulco staring Elvis Presley the two made their way to Iroquois Park Lookout near Valley Station, the town where Rita was from. Iroquois Park was the perfect place to meet your friends on the weekend and the perfect place for couples to go parking, but the two had spent their time talking and laughing… just enjoying each others company. The evening had been perfect and Rita couldn’t wipe the smile from her face.

About that same time, Wes reached into the back seat and pulled out a six pack of beer. He took one from the case and offered it to her.

“You want one?” He asked.

Shocked, the smile fell from Rita’s lips in disappointment.

“…No thanks.”

He nodded and went back to focusing on driving. The two sat in silence for a while… neither one moving or looking at each other… both lost in thoughts of how the night had taken an awkward and concerning turn. Rita, who was quite taken with Wes, was quickly rethinking everything about him and the type of man she thought he was. Snapshots of the sadness her mother’s eyes held each time her father would drink flashed in her mind and she knew going down that path was the last thing she wanted out of life or a partner. Resolved in her thinking, she took a breath and confronted Wes about it.

“Look, I don’t care if you drink. I’m just not comfortable with it, so if you’re going to… you need to take me home first.”

Wes was quite as he thought about what she said. The bottle in his hand had yet to be opened and the rest sat untouched in the seat beside him. Thoughts swirled in his head about her, but one question caused him to pause… Was he ready to lose Rita over something as small as drinking? Then, without a second thought, he pulled the car over to the side of the road, determined to prove that he wasn’t that type of guy. Instantly Rita was on edge as worry and panic ran through her veins. What was he doing? Was he mad? Was he going to yell at her? Tons of questions raced though her mind and she felt instant regret for even saying anything at all. That was until he rolled down the window and chucked the beers out into a field.

With a smirk on his face, he slowly turned looking back at her and asked…

“Where do you want to go?”


The two were married the next year on June 20, 1964 and were together for 50 years. They built a beautiful life together traveling around the U.S. and abroad as Wes was stationed from one military base to the other. They have four children, two they had together and two from Wes’s previous marriage, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Wes passed away in October of 2014 from cancer, but their love still lives on today. You can see it in the way his family lives out their daily lives and how they love and care for one another.

While I was asking my Nana {Rita} to tell me all the details of this sweet story, she told me that when Wes {my Papa} tossed the beers out the window, that was the moment she knew he was a keeper.




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