Kaye’s personally selected “father,” Mr. Wilson, sits in the middle; next to him is Sunny. I do not know the occasion or the other people in the photograph, but this is the club where they ate lunch that first day.
Searching for A Father
Sunny’s daughter, Kaye, had a secret plan to find herself a father. Somewhere around the fifth grade, she began working on it, but kept everything entirely to herself for for fear that she’d be laughed at and no one would really understand.
After she began to realize that, generally speaking, the quality of bachelors the same age as her mother was not particularly good, she contented herself with analyzing her friends’ dads and mentally choosing which qualities they exhibited that especially appealed to her.
One friend’s dad was a great hunter who regularly provided the family with fresh venison and quail. Another father worked long, hard hours in the nearby oil fields, yet came home everyday in such good spirits that he seemed to honestly enjoy working and providing for his family. Then there was the dad who always managed to “need” an ice cream cone for himself and the girls on the way to take Kaye home. Another father she especially liked frequently brought the painfully shy girl into supper-table conversations by asking questions as if her opinion were really important. The only problem was finding all those qualities in one man who not only was the right age, but, who would also want Sunny for a wife.
Quite unexpectedly, she met him when she was a junior in college. Up until that time, she had managed to pay her education expenses through scholarships, working on campus or during school breaks, and with a little help from Sunny. However, toward the end of 1958, the Vice President of Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Belton – where she was an English Literature major – persuaded a businessman in nearby Temple, Texas to sponsor three girls enrolled there who needed financial help because of the loss of a parent.
Kaye was astounded when she received the letter explaining that she was one of them. The man would pay all three girls’ tuition, books, fees, room, and board. Plus, he would send each one a monthly check of $25 for incidental expenses. The only requirement was that they keep up their grades and work at one of the campus jobs available, usually about 15 to 20 hours a week. The scholarship would then be renewed each semester until graduation.
She immediately called the plant that he owned and made an appointment to thank the man in person. This was just much too wonderful for a mere thank-you letter. The money for incidentals would more than pay for the cab ride to Temple and back.
When she walked into his office, she met a charming man with white hair who appeared to be surprised at her gratitude since the other two girls had merely responded with formal thank-you letters. As they chatted in his office and later, at lunch together, she was surprised at how well he fit the criteria she had spent the last decade compiling.
He liked to hunt. He even leased land in South Texas so he could take friends for long hunting and fishing weekends.
He really enjoyed working – and often went back to his plant to check on the second and third shift workers. He knew them all by name and often knew their children’s names.
He was generous: took her out to lunch unexpectedly and spent time just getting to know her; offered her not only a scholarship, but spending money as well; and asked one of his assistants to drive her back to Belton, to save her paying the cab fare.
He was so interested in her that she felt safe enough to freely express her own ideas and was completely at ease with a comparative stranger.
And finally – he was not married. His wife had died. His second marriage, to a woman he had hoped would love and care for his three children, was a failure and had ended in divorce.
Back at school, Kaye immediately began plotting to get her mother to meet Mr. Wilson. If she could just get her to drive down from Dallas during the week, Kaye believed she could arrange for her mother to take him out to lunch to thank him for his kindness and repay the social obligation. The rest would be up to her mother and Mr. Wilson.
The trouble is, Mr. Wilson often traveled on business, and she had no idea when he would be in town. Or, when her mother would be available to visit the area. But the respective guardian angels must have adjusted the respective schedules because within a few weeks, Sunny decided to come visit Kaye on a Monday before traveling on to Austin for a business meeting. Furthermore, Mr. Wilson, was in town that same week and, although surprised by Kaye’s invitation, accepted the lunch date.
The rest of the story could have been written by any Hollywood script writer or even by a school girl thrilled by the idea of love and romance. After visiting in his office a few minutes, they left for lunch. Only he insisted that they all travel together in his shiny new car since he knew the town better than they did. Then he took them to the local country club to avoid any possibility that they pay the bill.
And the two subjects of this subversive plot really seemed to like each other, as their conversation easily ranged from politics to baroque art to business deals. The young match-maker barely managed to keep from smiling too broadly, for fear they would ask her to explain her “joke” to them.
And now, Dear Readers, I’ve shown you the many daunting, cliff hanging type problems this beautiful woman faced and over-came. Next week, we’ll wrap it up with the years of a new lifestyle.
Copyright by Kaye Fairweather 2018