My Parents’ Engagement Party

My parents were married in June 1955, after about seven years of dating—they’d met as high school freshmen and begun dating when they were sophomores. Their relationship survived the remainder of high school and four years at different colleges. Sixty-two years ago this month, in December 1954, during Christmas break of their senior year of college, they got engaged.

My mother’s parents threw a big engagement party in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where my mother had grown up. The event was significant enough to make the Klamath Falls newspaper, The Herald & News. Among the things I found in cleaning out my parents’ house were newspaper clippings of the event. There were also photographs that had appeared in the paper. I don’t know whether my grandparents had the pictures taken by a photographer they hired (most likely), or if a newspaper photographer took the pictures and later gave my grandparents copies.

Here are my mother and her mother baking Christmas cookies that year. I don’t know if the cookies were for the engagement party or for some other occasion that holiday.


And here are my mother and father walking up the stairs at their engagement party. I later made doll clothes out of scraps of material left over from my mother’s dress.


My dad later told me how he’d saved the money to buy my mother’s engagement ring. It was a small diamond set in white gold (my sister has it now, or I’d include a picture of the ring).

After giving my mother her ring at the party in December, my father realized he needed money for a honeymoon. So he went back to work after the holidays during his final semester of college at the  University of Washington to earn the money. He worked for Boeing in Seattle as a night engineer of some sort.

He told me it was a perfect job for a college student. He worked the evening shift from 4:00 until midnight, and he sat in an office doing his homework. Occasionally, someone brought him an engineering problem to solve or a drawing to approve, but for the most part, he was free to concentrate on his classwork.

And he must have earned plenty, because they had a two-week honeymoon in Carmel, California.

What do you know about your parents’ courtship?

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  1. I loved seeing these old photographs, Theresa. I’d say that was quite an engagement party to make the local paper.
    My mother likes to jokingly tell stories about how my father ‘chased’ her and she wasn’t the least bit interested.

    • Thanks, Jill. But lots of parties made the small town paper.
      My mother wasn’t too impressed with my father when she first knew him either. After all, he got a D in Algebra. That might be another post sometime.

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