By Linda Clark
This is how I became a member of the Wike-Clark family.
Back in the 1960s many people did not approve of the Lonely Hearts Club and thought it was bad. I thought that way, too, for a long time, but then I was 21 years old and still living at home with my parents. I dated a couple of times, but because nobody wanted to date a partly handicapped person, it became rather lonely. So I joined a Lonely Hearts Club. I met a few nice men through writing letters, but one special one from Lebanon, PA. His name was Bill Clark. We wrote letters and talked on the phone.
Then in 1963, a week before Christmas, he came out to Indiana to see me. He got off the bus in Burnettsville, Indiana. Not knowing that he could get off the bus right in front of my parents home, he walked a mile in the cold. He stood at the front door looking in. I was curled up on the sofa writing a letter to him when our dog barked and ran to the door. I turned on the outside light and there he stood cold and smiling. He looked so handsome to me.
The next day Bill proposed to me. Of course I said yes. I asked him if he’d like to take a walk. I borrowed my mom’s boots. We walked through the field to town. Halfway back we met my best friend, who is like a sister to me. Shirley is her name. She wanted to take movies of Bill and me. She looked down at my feet and started laughing. I asked her what was wrong and she said, Look at your boots. They’re on the wrong feet! I didn’t even know it. That’s what love does to you.
At the first of the story, I said I was partly handicapped. I have a deformed right foot and walk with a limp. But that does not matter to Bill. He said, I love you just the way you are.
Bill had to leave and go back to Pennsylvania right after Christmas because of his job back there. We made plans to be married on June 6, 1964. That time went fast. The wedding plans were made. Bill arrived a week early. He had bought a car, a 1954 Ford station wagon. It had wood paneled doors on it, so we nicknamed it our Woody.
We had a very nice wedding, but my brother and sister sort of messed things up. They jacked the rear of the car up and put cement blocks under it and Limburger cheese in the exhaust pipe. Bill got a little mad because it did some damage to the car, which we didn’t know about until later. We left for Pennsylvania with the wedding gifts and some stuff packed away in the back of the wagon. We spent one night in Ohio and then on to Pennsylvania. I had only seen one mountain the summer I stayed with my Aunt Dora. Bill wanted me to see more big mountains, tunnels and also bridges that twist around each other. It was something to see.
We were coming down over the last mountain when I told Bill that there were sparks shooting out the rear of the car and they were getting worse. Yes, you’re right. Jacking the car up on blocks had done some damage to the rear, and it just took time for it to break through. Anyway, it was late and it was raining pretty good. Bill pulled the car off the road. No motels in sight. No garage close to fix the car. So we slept in the front seat. We couldn’t roll the window down because of the rain, and the smell of Limburger cheese on a hot exhaust pipe was awful!
Next morning, stiff and sore from sleeping in the front sear, we got the rear of the car fixed and we headed for home. When we got there, everyone wanted to meet the woman Bill had married. When he introduced me to his neighbors and friends, all they said was, You’ve got pretty white teeth. I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t.
The next day I met his mom. She had moved out of the house into an apartment so that Bill could have the house to live in. We lived there for a few years, then Bill got a job in Columbia, PA, and we bought a house in Lancaster, closer to his job.
We had foster children for a few years. Then it got to be sad to have to give the kids back to their not deserving parents. There was one little girl that no one wanted but us. We adopted her when she was three years old. She is now 36 years old, married and the mother of six wonderful kids, so we are grandparents now.
So as for Lonely Hearts Clubs, sometimes it doesn’t work out for everyone. But it sure did for Bill and I. We have had bad times as well as good times, mostly good times. This past June 6, 2005, we celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary. Bill has heart problems now and can’t do much, but he is still that very special guy I found in the Lonely Hearts Club. I still love him very much. I am no longer a lonely heart because I found a happy heart 41 years ago.
P.S. I want every one to know that I am proud to be a Wike-Clark.
Published in U S Legacies Magazine December 2005