life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage

Love for the Average Joe

by Stan Scislowski

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Your good editor, Elaine, asked me to write a romantic story of my life, and that is indeed a challenge. I can write about almost anything else, especially my war experiences, but when it comes to writing the mushy stuff I didn’t know whether I could do it. But I told Elaine I would try. Until I met my one and only sweetheart, Joyce Barnes at the old Jackson Park dance pavilion in the late summer of 1947, I had gone through a few infatuations, and that’s all they were, infatuations. Boy meets girl. Boy gets fresh. Boy gets slapped – those kind of affairs. In my middle teens I was extremely shy, and along with the fact that I hadn’t been blessed with the kind of good looks that women drool over, nor did I have the physique of a Greek god, it wasn’t too easy to get the girls to fall for me or even look my way.

The first one who did was a girl by the name of Connie who I ran into in Piccadilly Circus in London while I was on a weekend pass. No, she was not a ‘Piccadilly commando’ as the shady women of the streets were so called in those war years. She and her girlfriend were drawn to the big city, just like every other girl looking for a little excitement, and perhaps, a little loving.

And so did the young and virile servicemen, and there sure were plenty of them cruising the streets and haunting the pubs looking and hoping to find someone to share a few happy hours with.

Let’s just say Connie and I had a good time and leave it at that. No harm done, some experience gained. Like every other red-blooded youth who returned home from war, I was on the lookout for some girl whom I might end up marrying. But this was easier said than done. Like I said, I wasn’t a dashing Romeo, and at that time I didn’t have a good line to whisper into a delicate ear that would make up for my lack of handsome features. In addition, competition was tough. Whenever the gang went to a dance, a restaurant hangout or wherever, it was my buddies who ended up with the prettier ones, while I got saddled with something else. But then, of course, she might have thought the same thing about me.

While playing lacrosse I must have attracted some attention from the opposite gender. I ended up with a girlfriend (or at least I considered her to be my girlfriend). But, a long and meaningful romance was not to be, and Barbara and I parted company. She found herself an older and more sophisticated man, and though I was hurt, it was not a deep hurt. Only my ego took a beating. If I had lost Barbara to a guy around my age, it wouldn’t have been so bad but to lose him to a man 10 years older than me was not easy to take.

But it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me (not taking anything away from Barbara – I liked her a lot and we had a lot of fun in each other’s company). Two weeks later I decided to go to Jackson Park with two of my buddies to see if we could pick up, like we used to say in those days, “some broads.”

So there we were leaning up against the trunk of a beat-up old Ford V-8 ogling the girls as they trooped downstairs to the women’s ‘john’ under the grandstand. They were all worth looking at and commenting on, but when Joyce and her friend Pat Brown came down the steps, my eye caught the back side of Joyce’s figure and I said something nice about it. She wheeled around and came towards me and I thought for sure I was going to get a belt on the chops. Instead, she said to me,
“You’re Stan Scislowski, aren’t you?”
Surprised that this cute, compact, but well-stacked girl should know me, I tried to act blasé.
“Yeah! How come you know me?”
“I’ve been going to the lacrosse games and I like the way you play,” she replied.

And right then I figured this girl must be attracted to the rough and rugged-looking types. And I also guessed that I must have come across to her in that way.

That was the beginning of a long romance and a wonderful life together, a life that blessed us with four lovely daughters and two handsome sons.

I courted Joyce Barnes for three years before we spoke our vows at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church on the corner of Victoria and Park. After all, she was only sweet sixteen when I met her, while I was 24.

My technique in courting? There was no technique. In fact I might even have been a bit clumsy or self conscious when we were alone together. When a boy and girl are together, however, and enjoy each other’s company, and you like more or less the same things, love has got to come.

I knew I was in love when Joyce used to catch a bus at noon from her job at the Ford office on the river at the foot of Drouillard to meet me at the Chrysler Plant 3 gate. We ‘d walk and talk and occasionally kiss, although I was a little shy about this with people walking by. And then when she had to board the bus and go back to work I felt as though she was leaving on an ocean crossing – I wouldn’t see her again for a whole five hours.

Yes, I knew I was in love, a love that lasted exactly 50 years, 8 months and six days.

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