11. The Wedding

11.  The WeddingB&B Wedding

August 14, 1965.  Betty and I were married by her former pastor in his church in Pittsburgh, PA.

Betty was a beautiful vision walking down the aisle on the arm of her father.  I was so nervous I could hardly get the ring on her finger!  The organist played Blue Hawaii as we walked together down the aisle.

My parents and aunt drove down from Michigan for the wedding.  My cousin Michael Howe was Best Man. Edith Ressler, Betty’s friend from college, was Maid of Honor. Jim Davis, Betty’s brother and Terry Davis, a cousin, rounded out the wedding party.

B&B Wedding party

At the reception, we had a wedding cake and a birthday cake for Betty.

B&B Wedding - handsMichael and  Jim had the car festooned with streamers, and with cans dragging, we were driven home to change, and then to our motel at the airport, to be ready for the flight to Hawaii next day.

For our honeymoon trip, I purchased a little battery-operated record player and two LP records. The music and a bottle of champaign were our treat for our wedding night at the motel. After a taste of champaign, I gave the bottle to my dad. We learned later that he put it in the trunk of their car where it exploded on the drive back to Michigan. 🙂

The next day, off to Hawaii.  What we thought would be an exciting one year honeymoon teaching at the University of Hawaii, Hilo campus, turned into unexpected adventures!

10. Answer to Prayer

10. Answer to PrayerGod answers prayers

I had been praying many months for the Lord to end my desperate loneliness, when a colleague acquaintance, who knew I was looking to move on to a small college, used a transparent ploy to “set me up” to meet a graduate student friend of hers.  She gave me a college bulletin which had an article about the speech department at a small college in Ohio, and told me I had to return it “in person!”  It took me several months of praying to get up the courage to call the girl. By “coincidence”, I arranged to return the bulletin on February 14th, 1965, Valentine’s Day, when the graduate women’s dorm was having an open house.

When I met Betty, I knew immediately that my prayer was answered!  We talked for a couple of hours, then I walked across campus to a pay phone and called my mother in Michigan.  “Guess what Mom, I just met the girl I’m going to marry.”

It was two weeks later that I called and asked Betty to go to a movie.  Then began my campaign of weekly dates for a proper courtship.  I helped Betty write her Master’s thesis. At Easter, Betty’s parents came up from Pittsburgh and we went out for dinner.

It was the end of April, 1965.  Betty would graduate in June, and I had my application for employment posted in the Speech Association of Eastern States.  I was afraid Betty would get a job somewhere too far away to continue our relationship.

On the first of May, May Day, we went for a picnic at a beautiful little park by a stream engagementnear State College.  I told Betty I knew about a job in applied Home Economics – not much salary, but great fringe benefits – as my wife.  She didn’t get it!  Then I said, “I’m asking you to marry me!”  Her “Yes” and a big hug was a big relief for me!  I rushed Betty back into town to see the movie, Mary Poppins, and we finished the day with a cantaloupe filled with ice cream at the diner.

The next day I received another surprise offer – to teach speech communication at the University of Hawaii for one year, replacing an instructor on leave!

We were married 3 & 1/2 months later on August l4 on Betty’s birthday. It was the only Saturday in August that gave us some time to plan, and to be in Hawaii for student orientation at the end of August.

Up next – the wedding!

9. First Job

Penn State

9. First Job

It was the end of August, 1962, I was sitting at home on the farm.  I had finished an incomplete for one of my courses, and had finally officially graduated with my Master’s degree in Speech from the University of Michigan.  I sat in the stands at the graduation ceremony the previous June, and watched the graduates in their gowns stand to be acknowledged.  I’m glad I didn’t rent a gown just to stand up in a crowd.

The fall school season was soon to begin, and I had no job!  “Out of the blue” I received a phone call from Dr. Robert Oliver, Chairman of the Speech Department at Penn State University.  He said he had just received a grant for an experimental program and could offer me a job as a 3/4 time Instructor, and 1/4 time Phd candidate.  Would I be interested?

Whew!  Job yes.  PhD student NO!  I had just finished 7 years of college, and had no interest in being a student again.  I told Dr. Oliver, “Can I think about it?” He said, “Sure, call me back in 2 hours.”  It took me about 10 minutes to review my circumstances.  August, no job, and not much prospect of getting one this late.  I called Dr. Oliver and told him I would take the job, and would be on my way to State College in a few days.

The first indication I had made the right decision was when Daddy came home and I told him I had a job as an instructor at Penn State.  He was so obviously proud that I thought, Hey!  This job does sound pretty impressive!

Being an intern instructor at Penn State for 3 years helped me learn how to teach, and put me in place for a dramatic answer to prayers that changed my life!

What was your first job?  How did you feel about going to work?

8. Off to College

Univ. Michigan logo 8. Off to College

It did not occur to me to change my goal of being a professional musician, so when I qualified for a scholarship to the University of Michigan, I started in Music School. My first year, I decided to stay on for summer school.

UM Bell TowerOne of my summer classes was in the Memorial Bell Tower on campus. A very old building, the elevator had a scissoring gate rather than a door. Leaving class I was the last one on the elevator, and one of my cuff crutches was in the gate when the elevator started down. Fortunately, the cuff was facing up, and the crutch whipped off my arm and was mangled in between the elevator and the shaft wall with a loud grinding noise – someone screamed!

The remains of the crutch were retrieved from the bottom of the elevator shaft, but it was unusable. I discovered I could walk with one crutch, and realized I could walk with a cane! This “accident” helped me progress to walking better.

Providentially, I lived at the end on the top floor of the men’s South Quad dorm. The three end rooms housed the group who became my best friends and roommates. The five of us, who were in Music School and pre-Business, went to movies and programs almost every weekend.

I learned what real friends are when I finished hand writing my English 101 term paper at 2:00 am, and three of the guys got up and typed the paper for me to hand in that day.

MSU logo

Discouraged by my inability to play the piano or my horn very well, I switched to a business track my third year. After three years at Michigan majoring in changing majors, I transferred to Michigan State to finish the business track.

School became easier and I was able to complete a Bachelor of Science degree, graduating with honors. By a “guided process of elimination”, I finally realized my best asset was my voice, and returned to the University of Michigan to earn a Master’s degree in Speech, with a new goal to become a speech teacher.

Has God directed you or helped you with a dramatic event?

7. Back to School

Ionia HS

7. Back to School

I started school again in September, first in a wheelchair, and then walking upright with arm cuff crutches.  My new limitations prevented me from playing my cornet, so Mr. Shutes, the band director, set up a frame to hold a big bass horn, so I could sit to play bass when the band was inside.

I would sit on the bleachers and watch when the band went to the football field Arm Crutchesto practice.  After the band left, and I thought no one was watching, I would go to the end of the field, lift up the arm crutches in front of me, and see how far I walk before I had to put the crutches down to balance.  The first try was five yards. There were some scary times when I lost my balance and did fancy footwork to get steady again, but over the weeks of football season, I gradually increased my distance until – touchdown!  I walked 100 yards with the crutches in the air!

Mr. Shutes told me years later when I returned to visit the band, that he and a couple of the kids watched me from inside to be sure I didn’t fall.  Some unknown angels watching out for me.

Being disabled forced me to study more, and missing a year of school gave me time to mature, and to my surprise, I started getting good grades for the first time in high school.

Ford coupeMy Grandpa John on my dad’s side, came to live with us after Grandma
died, and after he passed away, I inherited his ’39 Ford.  I mounted a gong below the floor, and a cowbell under the hood, and a couple of extra horns, and drove to school my senior year.  What fun I had! Driving an old stick shift automobile also helped me get more agility with my legs.

Have you ever driven a stick shift car?   Can you remember when gas was $.29 a gallon?

6. Remember the Mosquito?

Miquito 2

  6.  Remember the Mosquito?

A spinal tap revealed the presence of encephalitis; a virus carried by mosquitoes that attacks the nervous system. I was almost completely paralyzed, and could not lift my hands to feed myself. It was not until years later I learned that encephalitis usually resulted in death or mental incapacitation. The doctors tried the then current “miracle” drugs, and then with no other option evident, they ordered an iron lung to prolong my functioning.

Betty Murdock, the head nurse on the floor, overheard their plans. She was awakened in the middle of the night, and felt prompted to drag her roommate out of bed to pray for me. The next morning, my condition had turned for the better, the iron lung was cancelled, and I began recovering! Apparently, God waited for that one last obedient prayer before touching me! Betty stayed in contact with my mother, and shared the details of the story in correspondence two years later.

My stay at the hospital in Chicago stretched out to four months. The doctor finally said I could go home, and my Dad bought an old ambulance to take me home to Michigan. More months passed while I lay in a rented hospital bed. There was no physical therapy in our small town, so my parents helped me exercise and progress to a wheelchair. The physical therapist in Chicago invited me to her summer camp in Wisconsin for handicapped teens. That week gave me a big boost in my recovery.

Eventually, I realized that I owed my life to God, and that He saved my life for some purpose that He would prepare me for. (Ephesians 2:10)

Do you know God’s purpose for your life?

 

Our New Website!

Our New Website!

A big thank you to Deborah Kelly of The WriteOne Creative Services, for creating our beautiful website and blog page!

What is super cool is when you click on the blog page – not only can you follow our latest post – but you can subscribe to receive posts via email, reply with a comment sharing your experience, and share the post on your Facebook, Google+ and Twitter!

We encourage you to share with us so we can all learn from, support and encourage one another.

http://RobertZHicks.com

 

Lights! Action! Camera!

Lights! Action! Camera!

Video Shoot

Watching a professional set up and work a video shoot for our book trailer for Tommie Turtle’s Secret was impressive and fun! Jordan Lung of JL Video Productions invited us to his home while he photographed his wife and son reading the book.

Multiple tripods with lights and cameras with wires going everywhere surrounded Mom and Micah, and then “lights, action, camera”, while Mom read to Micah!

Micah, not quite two years old, was rather active, but cooperated when bribed with raisins.

Betty and I sat on an adjacent sofa watching the action.  Betty played an important part by holding and bottle-feeding the Lung’s baby girl.

We can hardly wait to see the finished product when Jordan completes the editing!