for the Average Joe
by Stan Scislowski
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 didnt 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 thats
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 hadnt been
blessed with the kind of good looks that women drool over, nor did
I have the physique of a Greek god, it wasnt too easy to get
the girls to fall for me or even look my way.
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.
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.
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 wasnt a dashing Romeo, and at that time I didnt
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.
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 wouldnt have been so bad but to lose
him to a man 10 years older than me was not easy to take.
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 others 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
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 womens
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 Joyces 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,
Youre Stan Scislowski, arent you?
Surprised that this cute, compact, but well-stacked girl should
know me, I tried to act blasé.
Yeah! How come you know me?
Ive been going to the lacrosse games and I like the
way you play, she replied.
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
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
others 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 wouldnt 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.