Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Sixty-five years ago today, I married John Phillips Burnell, Jr. We met in the Spring  of 1948 in a lunch line at Lowry Hall at Kent State University. He was with my friend Jean Beckmann, who had met him in a journalism class. At the time I was dating my Holden Caulfield boy friend Dick, who had just bought a brand new, bright red 1948 Plymouth convertible that winter. I liked Johm's looks, tall and thin and very well dressed. I was impressed with his dark rimmed glasses, too, and there were very few people wearing that style in those days. I would see him around campus occasionally, and we would have coffee once in a while with others at the student union. I enjoyed his sense of humor and I made him laugh, too. But I was still going with my mixed up cynical boy friend.
When I came back in the fall, absence had not made my heart grow fonder for Dick, and I asked John to the dorm dance, and that was it. I must admit that I had kind of stalked him, in that I knew where he usually hung out for a smoke on a wall I walked past on my way to Spamish class. Or maybe he hung out on that wall because he knew I would walk by on my way to Spanish class. Sometimes I never made it  to the classroom, actually. The student union was close by and a person needed a snack or a cup of coffee, after all.
That was the beginning of our relationship. On our first real date we double dated with my friend Colleen and BF Chuck. Colleen was one of the few girls at school who had her own car.. We ended up that night at the Big House, which had a dance floor and a fireplace.  ( Many years later it became the hangout for the Chosen Few, a rough biker gang.) We danced and then John and I sat by the fire and talked and talked. I remember our mutual love for cats was a major subject.  Because I had to be in by 11 o'clock, the evening ended fairly early,but we fad a very fine time.
We went together at Kent State until John graduated a year earlier than I.he started grad school at Ohio State. He had switched from journalism to sociology. I had picked up  unsociology, too, along with continuing art. We both found that area fascinating, since we were interested in social issues, which at that period were creating tension by the proponents of McCarthyism and the rising civil rights movement.
Johm was a graduate assistant at Ohio State, teaching and loving it. He had an opportunity to get a research job for a year, at which point, dear reader, I married hum.
I don't intend to make this a story of our marriage, which was cut short by his death in a car accident when he was only thirty-eight. He was teaching at Kent State by that time and working on his doctoral dissertation We had three girls and a boy on the way when that happened. It was a terrible loss, of course. I had never thought that one could survive such a thing, but we did. He had given me that strength.
The portrait is one I did in 1948. I don't remember when, but it must have been the fall after we first met. I had forgotten it, but Emily found it when she was recently home. She had it framed for me. I am so glad she did.