“One night he’d told me he loved me, and I told him I loved him of course,” Joanna said. “Then he put the ring on my finger and said ‘When are we gonna get married?’ He never asked me to marry him.”
“I guess I didn’t need to ask you to marry me because you did,” Charles laughed.
Since they were both 19 years old, they had to get written permission in order to marry. In Indiana, you had to get parental consent to get married until you were 21.
Even though Joanna’s parents liked Charles, Charles’ mother wasn’t as fond of Joanna. She didn’t want Charles to get married because he was young. She refused to sign the papers to give the couple consent to wed.
Charles told his mother that they would find a way to get married no matter what, even if that meant getting married out-of-state. They didn’t have strict marriage laws in Kentucky or Tennessee in the early 1950s.
She eventually signed the papers.
“She knew we were gonna do it whether she signed or not,” Charles said.
After dating for six months, they were married north of Burlington at the Rose of Sharon Parsonage June 26, 1953.
“I knew I wanted to be with him all the time,” Joanna said.
They described their wedding as simple. They had six people total: the two of them, the preacher and his wife, and Charles’ best friend and his best friend’s girlfriend who stood up with them during the ceremony. They traveled to Tennessee for a long weekend after they were married.
“We didn’t have a lot of money even though we were both working,” Charles said. “Wages were different back then than they are now. Don’t expect to have what your folks have right now when you get married. You gotta work to get it. You don’t realize it’s probably taken your folks 30 or 40 years to get the stuff they have.”