Sixty-one years ago, my mother left campus life behind to visit a little town a couple of hours south. In truth it wasn’t the little town she wanted to see, but the family of the man she loved.
Marilyn Minor was a junior occupational therapy major at the Richmond Polytechnic Institute that fall of 1952. Her man, Norman Strickland, was a junior transfer from RPI to Virginia Tech, where he was studying electrical engineering. Norman had been asked to come home for the weekend of September 20-21, because his brothers, Sidney, Clifford and Paul, were all coming to Chase City, bringing their wives and children. A conflicted Norman must have told his mother of his commitment to see Lyn that very weekend, and, as one can imagine, his mother offered a compromise that no one could turn down: ask Lyn to come along home with you!
As Norman proposed in a separate letter, received under separate cover, he would pick Lyn up that Sunday morning and take her back that night. They would be all together for church and lunch. These plans were made in early September as the young couple prepared to return to school, since Lyn would need both her parents’ permission and the school’s permission to leave campus. “I do hope you will come for the joy will be all mine,” wrote the Chase City boy.
The fact that my mother kept these letters suggests that Lyn dashed to her parents upon receiving the notes, and accepted the invitation before leaving her family home in Greene County, Pennsylvania. That year the fall equinox marked more than the changing of the seasons. The courtship of Lyn and Norman took a very serious turn.