Chapter 6 MARRIAGEŚCANANDAIGUA

Doris J. Williams taken in 1922

While there was no correspondence with Helen, letters from Doris began to increase. About the last of November 1919 I wrote that I still was in love with another girl, without giving her name. She did not know Helen. Later Doris told me she tore my letter to bits. My letter, and its contents did not exist! Instead she wanted to marry me on January 1, 1920 to start the New Year right. She would make all the arrangements for our marriage in her Baptist church in Ahoskie. We had never had a date.

I replied asking her to meet me in Norfolk, Virginia at the post office, to talk things over, about noon, two days before our marriage in Ahoskie. In Norfolk I waited from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. in front of the post office, but no one showed up to meet me, not even a member of her family. Should I now return to my job in Canandaigua and forget about the marriage planned in Ahoskie? No, I would go on to Ahoskie to learn what was the cause.

In Ahoskie, Mrs. Rae Curtis, Doris' older sister, met me at the railroad station. She said all plans had been completed, and she and I were to drive over to the county seat right away to get the marriage license. The office would be closed New Year's eve, the day before the marriage. The license was only $2.00. On the way back to Ahoskie I asked Rae why Doris had not met me in Norfolk. She replied that it was not convenient for Doris to do so. This was a shock.

In all of my experiences in life I had learned to trust others and to give others the benefit of any doubt. Trust others as you wanted others to trust you. Do unto others, etc. Women I considered virtuous, and men honorable, unless proven otherwise. Now I was to meet a character, and a situation which I could not believe existed among civilized beings.

Before going on with that story something else should be reported. No formal or other invitations were sent out. My family in Charlotte had been informed (only) of the possibility of my marriage in a Baptist church in Ahoskie. To my surprise my sister, Genevieve, 20, dressed like a beauty queen, came about the time I arrived. She had come to represent my family at the church wedding. That is what I thought and was pleased. My family was going to recognize my marriage. This was not the real purpose of her visit, I later learned. Little did I know my own family. Little did I know the Curtis family.

Doris and her Baptist friends, mostly girls and women, were assembled in the dining room, before the hour set for the church wedding, a social gathering. Manly Curtis was not there. He must have entered the house through the back door unseen. The house was a neighbor's home. Doris and I were holding hands. Presently Rae Curtis came into the room and said quietly to Doris, which I overheard, "Manly wants to see you." Without a word of objection Doris left the living room and disappeared in the rear bedroom part of the house. Rae then took the chair vacated by Doris and started a conversation to keep my attention. I considered, of course, that a brother-in-law has a right to speak to his wife's sister on some matter which did not concern me. Also she was still single. When the "conference" (in the back bedroom?) lasted too long I began to get suspicious. I wanted to break off Rae's talks with me and head for the railroad station, and I would have except for one thing. My sister, Genevieve, was the center of attraction in the room. Had she come to represent my family at the church wedding? Presently Genevieve came over to me and said that she was going to travel to Norfolk by rail with Doris and me, after the church wedding. She had a surprise for us. Doris then came into the room and began to play the piano with great vim and energy. Manly did not show. Evidently he was resting or he went out the back door unnoticed.

Then we all went to the church, not far from the house. Someone had been selected to be my "best man." After the ceremony the Baptist minister said to me out loud, "Now, you take good care of our little girl." Doris, Genevieve, and I were driven by auto to the railroad station and boarded the train for Norfolk. Upon reaching that city Genevieve sprang the surprise. She hailed a cab which took us to a church rectory. All had been planned.

The priest was ready to perform marriage, except that the non-Catholic, Doris, must first sign a prepared statement to bring up any children to the marriage in the Catholic faith. She hesitated. I told her not to worry. She signed, and we were, a second time, pronounced man and wife. Having accomplished her mission, Genevieve took leave of us and went to Charlotte to receive the plaudits of her sister, Mary, and my father. What bothered me was the fact that my family was not concerned with who would be my wife. That was not important. The only thing important was that I be married by a (any) Roman Catholic priest.

Sisters in 1918: Genevieve (left) and Mary

Now I was legally married (twice) and my family would recognize my children as legitimate. I told Doris that any children of mine would not be forced into any religion without consent. Never in my life have I tried to influence my children in religion or politics; their choice in religion or politics was their own responsibility.

Doris and I now went on our honeymoon to Philadelphia and from there to Canandaigua. The first night Doris said she was having her monthly "period," so we had no sexual intercourse during our three day honeymoon. Was this "period" explanation story true, or did her sister, Rae, suggest this cover-up to delay my learning she was not a virgin? I despised the attempt at cover-up. Whether she was a virgin or not meant nothing to me.

Back to the twelve hour grind at the chemical plant. Ross Phillips decided to expand the number of products. The aminoguanidines was one of these. He also suggested to me the possibility of, as yet, an unknown substance, nitro-amino-guanidine. Several years later I discovered a way to produce this new compound. The process was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, 50, 2465 (1928). Sorry the process was not patented. It had the possibility (unforeseen at the time) for use in the still undeveloped solid fuel for space rockets. Demand for the special chemicals began to decline and Ross closed up his plant. George Eastman gave him a job in Rochester making chemicals for color photography. I went to Washington in search of a job with the U.S. Government.