Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 15, 2013

Beauty in the bumps

How the Brubakers love has lasted

By Kelly Lafferty Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Myron Brubaker was back from the Korean War for less than a month, during the summer of 1953, when he claimed he saw Norma’s phone number written on the wall of a bus station in Fremont, Neb.

“It’s not the truth,” Norma said. “My name and number would not have been on the wall at the bus station.”

“Nobody in the world has heard anything different from that,” Myron laughed.

Regardless of the authenticity of his story, Myron, who was assigned to an Air Force outpost in Fremont, actually did call the number and introduced himself as Myron Brubaker from Kokomo, Ind., to Norma’s mother.

Her mother put Norma on the phone and the two talked for 45 minutes, during which she invited him over to her house, where she was hanging out with family and one of her friends named Doris.

Myron hadn’t dated or even hung out with a girl for a year because he had been overseas, so he took her up on the offer.

He went to her house and her father answered the door, letting him know that they were hanging out downstairs.

“It took a lot of nerve for me to walk down to the basement,” Myron said.

When he was introduced to the girls, Doris pretended to be Norma, and Myron had no idea that he was being pranked.

“I spent the whole evening visiting with Doris,” Myron said. “A nice-looking red head, if I remember.”

He didn’t find out who was who until he was about to leave.

“They pulled that thing the whole night,” Myron laughed.

He asked Norma out, but she turned him down, saying she didn’t know him well enough.

It was Norma’s mother who encouraged her to get to know Myron, so she invited him over to her family’s Sunday dinner.

A few days later he asked her out on a date, and on their date, and the ones to follow, they went to movies or out polka dancing, but the couple wasn’t exclusive. Myron dated other girls for a short period of time.

Norma and her mom were watching a show of a televised dance in Omaha one day, when a familiar face came across the screen.

“My mom said, ‘Oh, isn’t that what’s his name?’” Norma said.

It was Myron, who was dancing with another girl.

“I felt kinda guilty,” Myron said. “I really liked Norma.”

“We weren’t dating that seriously yet,” Norma said.

Soon after they decided to seriously date, and dated for nine months, until Myron got discharged from the Air Force and decided not to re-enlist. He wanted to go back to Indiana and go to college at Purdue University.

“It was devastating to think I’d leave for Indiana and leave her [Norma] 700 miles away,” he said. “We shared about everything. Norma’s the best friend I got.”

The couple had never discussed marriage before.

“I never considered getting married,” he said. “I knew I thought an awful lot of Norma. I knew I loved her. I was either gonna have to go off and leave her or marry her, one or the other.”

He was afraid that her parents wouldn’t let him marry her since she was so close with them, but he had nothing to worry about because her parents really liked him, and so did Norma.

“I just fell in love,” she said. “He was special.”

They got married Apr. 10, 1954 at Fremont’s Presbyterian church when Myron was 23 and Norma was 21.

“We didn’t have a big wedding like kids do now where they rent limousines,” Myron said. “But we had a nice wedding.”

They moved to an apartment in Fremont for several months until January 1955, when they moved back to Indiana.

“I think Norma cried halfway to Indiana,” Myron said. “It was tough saying bye to her folks.”

When Myron made it to study at Purdue University, he and Norma lived in the married quarters, which were old Army barracks.

According to the Brubaker’s, the living conditions in the barracks weren’t that great.

The barracks’ walls were two inches thick, and the quarters were infested with cockroaches.

They made it work, but with little money.

“We just did anything for a nickel,” Myron said.

They would both babysit and Myron would clean sorority dorms during summer break. Any clothes that were left behind, Norma would take.

“She and I worked together as a team,” Myron said.

Sometimes when they went to the grocery, they’d have to put things back because they didn’t have enough money to afford it.

They also had two children while Myron went to school, which made money even tighter.

They don’t look back on it at terrible times though.

“We had a lot of laughs there at school,” Norma said.

Myron graduated with honors in three years, and then got a job at Central Soya, a soy bean processor company.

The family was transferred multiple times because of his work, but during the 31 years at Central Soya, they always had a tradition.

They would have date night almost every Friday, with no kids in tow. They had a particular restaurant they’d go to in each place they lived during the 31 years.

“I think the secret is to a good marriage is to never quit dating,” Myron said. “I think the biggest mistake young people make is they drag their kids whenever they go out. Norma and I would have that night just the two of us and we’d talk over everything important in our lives.”

Myron retired when he was 58 years old after he was diagnosed with cancer and given four to six months to live, as well as having to undergo eight bypass surgeries.

Now about 25 years later, he and Norma have been married for 59 years.

The Brubakers, who have traveled in a motorhome for three years, as well as ridden motorcycles across the country, now live near Burlington, Myron’s hometown.

They have three children.

“We don’t go anyplace apart,” Myron said.

These days they set aside a day each week to go somewhere they’ve never been before.

“You don’t have to go to Paris to see something different,” Myron said.

When they’re home, Myron reads Norma books and articles, because of her poor eyesight.

The couple agrees that during the years they have gotten to know each other extremely well, and say they’ve had a happy life together.

“There are lots of forks in the road in your life,” Myron said. “I think we took the right fork.”