This is the second in my series of excerpts from Full Quiver’s upcoming book, “Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship.” Today’s post is entitled “Novena to Marry the Right Girl,” and tells the story of Leon and Mary Lou DuBois, who are originally from Philadelphia, and who have been married for 58 years.
Lee: I was overseas in the Navy and I had made a novena on board, and the intention of the novena was that I would marry the right girl. Of course, I had been going around with a girl for more than four years. Normally, I would get letters from her and at the bottom, it would always say, “All my love, Your Peggy.” I did get a Christmas card, but when it finally came sometime in January, it said “Peggy.” So I figured there was something wrong.
When I returned home, I called her and I said, “Is this what I think it is?” She said, “Yes.” As it turned out, her father told her that now that I’m in the Navy, sailors can’t be trusted.
For some reason, I wasn’t completely all broken up about this. I had called two girls to go out, and neither one of them would go out with me because they figured, “He’s going with Peggy.”
John, my best friend, went around with Mary Lou’s best friend, Helen. We were going to go out on a double date and I said, “I can’t get anybody to go out with me.” John said, “I’ll take care of that.”
I didn’t have a car, but he did and so they came around to my house to pick me up. When I opened the door, who was in the back seat but this good looking girl, and that’s what attracted me. I don’t know, we just hit it right off. She was going with somebody else at the time. I told her that I had to go back overseas again and said, “Don’t do anything until I come home.” So when I came home, we got together.
Mary Lou: I knew about Lee from all the dances we went to. Back when I was a freshman, he was a senior and he always won all the jitterbug contests. He was so handsome. I never thought that I would ever have a date with him. At the time, I was actually engaged to another fellow, and I had accepted the ring. So Helen called me and she said, “You remember Leon DuBois? He doesn’t have a date. He’s only home for a few days. Could you break your date?” So I broke my date.
He didn’t have the sailor suit on; he had this navy blue pinstripe suit with a white shirt and I thought, Oh, he’s so handsome. Everybody in that group was so funny. We just laughed all the time. So I said, “Where are we going?” They said, “We’re going over to New Jersey.” There were all these clubs where you can have a drink and we all loved to sing and dance, so they ordered me a Brandy Alexander, and I had quite a few of them. We got up on the stage and we sang, “Abba Dabba Honeymoon.” The next day, I said to my girlfriend, “I’m so sick. It’s a good thing my mother isn’t home,” because I would have been grounded for ten years. So my friend said that Lee had to go back soon. Lee called me up the next day and I thought, well, come on over. So the big thing back then for going on a date was the movies and the ice cream parlor. Again, he came in his navy blue suit, and we talked about the fun we had. We used to sit on the sofa before he went back overseas and we would talk. We had the music on, just talk, talk, talk, lots of kissing, but nothing else, just kissing and talking.
Our romance, really our courtship, was mostly by mail because he was away for six months. We started writing back and forth. I have every single letter he ever wrote. And we used to do a poem together. I would write a line and the next letter, he would write a line.
Lee: One of the things that I think is really great is that we got engaged in the 69th Street Terminal in Philadelphia. We were waiting for the train. I got down on my knee and I proposed to her, and I gave her an engagement ring.
I believe the most important thing is to have a sense of humor and to be able to laugh at yourself. A sense of humor is so primary because people don’t realize what effect it has on your metabolism. If I start thinking, I’m old and can’t have a sense of humor, I’m going to sit here like this, that’s not the way it should be. I believe this is one of the things that has helped us, that we have a sense of humor and being able to laugh at yourself.
Now, my father wasn’t a big churchgoer, just my mother. But here’s the thing. Back then, if you went to a Catholic school through grade school, you had to go to Mass. There was no ands, ifs or buts and they took attendance. In high school, the church paid your tuition. They would also take attendance. Now, if you didn’t go to Mass, the priest would come to your house and say, “Do you want to pay your tuition yourself? No? Then make sure your son starts going to church on Sunday.”
Mary Lou: You wouldn’t think of not going to church. And even if we were away on holiday, we used to go down to the seashore, and the first thing Sunday morning, you go to church. And we always went to daily Mass during Lent. We used to take the subway to go to Mass.
Lee: Even when I was in the Navy, they had Mass aboard ship, and it would be jammed with people.
Mary Lou: Anyway, not only do you have to love the person, you have to like them. A lot of people are madly in love. After you’re married and all that glitter wears off, you have to like the person.
Lee: Like Mary Lou says, love is one thing, but you have to genuinely like each other, and I think that’s really paramount.
Lee and Mary Lou DuBois live in Arnprior, Ontario and have been married for 58 years. Their courtship story, in its entirety, is included in “Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship.”
Text and photo copyright 2011 Full Quiver Publishing