Mr. Jewel Ridge made a statement in Mechanical Drawing class one time that I thought was way off. I don’t remember the exact wording but it was something to the effect that if he were a betting man he’d bet a steak dinner that most of us in his class would be married within 3 years. I laughed under my breath and thought he’d lose because I didn’t even have a girl friend at that point. There was no way.
In September, 1957, this girl from somewhere called Chehalis, Washington came to Enid to be with her sister whose husband had just been stationed at Vance Air Force Base. We met at church, fell in love, I proposed in May and she went back home – with a ring on her finger. I looked for work in Enid and she looked for work in Washington. It was a slow time for the economy and no one was hiring, especially if a person didn’t know where they were going to live.
We were married in August, 1958 in Chehalis with all her friends and relatives attending plus my Mom, Dad, and two brothers on my side. Our honeymoon was spent in a primitive cabin at Mt. Rainier National Park in Ohanapecosh Hot Springs Resort. Early on the second morning there was a knock at the door. There was her father, her mother, my father, my mother, and my two brothers. Does this sound like a 50’s song? It actually happened.
My family returned home to Enid and we moved to a cute little one bedroom rental on the banks of the Skookumchuck River in Centralia, WA. It was made for maturing a marriage what with a wood heating stove, a wood cook stove with a water tank over the stove for hot water, and no firewood. Two weeks later we bought this huge refrigerator so we would not have to leave the eggs on the back porch to keep cool and I got a job with a roofing contractor. The details are worthy of a book but we had fun together.
Our first child, a boy, was born in September – one year later. It was the first grandchild on my side of the family so we planned to surprise my parents by driving to Oklahoma for Christmas 1959, leaving while Weyerhauser Timber Company was shut down for the winter season. I was working in the woods as a logger among evergreen trees that were up to six feet across at the stump and taller than the oil derricks in Oklahoma. We drove from Centralia, Washington as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico before the motor gave out on our car. The price we got selling it at a junk yard was enough to buy tickets for two and a baby on Greyhound. We stayed in Oklahoma and I worked for Peerless Ice Cream Co. until 1964, three kids later.
At my request we moved back to Washington (no job lined up but confident), raised three boys and a girl, married them off and were blessed with ten grandchildren. Housing did improve and so did the job situation. I went to college for job advancement later in life. We live in an exclusive neighborhood about two miles from the Washington State Capitol building. I received early retirement from Centralia Steam Plant, a coal fired electric generating plant, at age 59 and went back as a consultant for a couple of years.
But the success of our lives is we served the Lord Jesus Christ from the beginning and He is still the center of our home. Our children have chosen to live the same life style of serving the Lord. We are blessed. It has been a great life with wonderful memories and we are still having fun. One advantage of starting at the bottom is the only way out is up.
I owe Mr. Ridge a steak dinner.
Dennis and Darlene Keahey
P.S.—- Dennis and Darlene wrote:
Sorry to take so long to get this in. We will not be able to attend the reunion but we are in Enid several times a year to visit my mother in Greenbrier Nursing Home. At 92 she is still sharp, witty, and loves to talk about the love of her life, Jesus Christ. My wife, Darlene, and I teach separate Bible Studies and have always been involved with teaching kids or teens or adults at our stages of life. Next year we celebrate 50 years of marriage but I understand some of you may be celebrating your 50th during the reunion (Norma and Nate Franke). Good for you! Thanks to all of you who put this whole reunion together and thanks to my classmates for making those years in Enid High pleasant memories.