For a number of reasons I can’t really tell you a
great deal about the night. I do know it was the first of April, the old Smokehouse (long closed) was crowded, the music was loud, and I was simply looking for a relaxing evening with old friends. Little did I know that on this night a chance encounter would forever change my life, and for that I will be forever grateful. That was the night I met my dearest friend.
She was there to celebrate the birthday of a co-worker. I was in town for supplies, and to blow off a bit of steam. She was shy and quiet, I was a bit boisterous and rough around the edges. She was a clerk in a local department store, I was working out of Drake, Arizona, population five or six, and got to town every three or four weeks. She drove a ’70 Dodge Charger. My transportation was a well worn ’46 GMC truck.
As my pockets were usually filled with moths and sand more often than they were filled with money, our dates were simple affairs; a movie at the State Theater downtown and a burger at the drug store soda fountain, a barbecue with friends, and long desert walks, a double date to the drive in theater or a picnic cruise in a friends ’26 Ford. Good memories every one.
Fast forward a year. Things had gotten serious and now there were dates that included conversations about marriage. Money, however, was still a bit of a deterrent. With the closure of Duval, the mining company north of Kingman that was a major employer, work was scarce. A mine closure is what led me to leave Silver City, New Mexico and relocate back to Kingman via Drake.
I picked up a weeks work here, a few days there, and home was a friends garage with a shower and fold out couch. More often than not, a care package from my dearest friend saved the day. Then, in mid summer I landed a fair job with a landscape contractor who was working on a retirement community project. The pay was adequate and the work to my liking; driving a truck, operating a tractor or two, a bit of ditch digging.
So, we set a date, and found a cheap little apartment downtown. I moved out of the garage, she still lived at home but provided the homey touches that kept it from looking like a bachelor pad. The countdown commenced – two weeks, one week, four days, three days ….
September 9, one day before the wedding. The landscaping project was complete and the owner of the company decided he was overdue for a vacation, for the winter. With layoff notice and paycheck in hand, I set out to find my dearest friend. That was how it all began thirty-four years ago.
As it turned out, that event sort of symbolized our life as husband and wife to this very date. A friend who was a silversmith offered to make our wedding rings. I woke him up a few hours before the wedding so he could finish them. I had a flat tire on the way to the wedding, and tore my only dress paints. J.C. Penny’s was a few blocks from the church but the closest I could come was pants one size to large.
It has truly been a grand adventure, to say the very least. From my dearest friend I learned about trust and forgiveness. Her boundless patience and encouragement are made manifest every day. She has lived in a never ending construction project for years but yet encourages me to spend more time doing what I enjoy. It was her support, and encouragement, that led to the writing of books and the creation of Jim Hinckley’s America. We have shared adventures that never could have been imagined when we tied the knot. It has been a long and twisted road filled with smiles and sorrow, laughter and tribulation but I honestly can’t imagine what would have become of me without her by my side.
Dear friend, thank you. Here is to another thirty years of adventure, laughter, and the trials of life.