Continued from Becoming a Teacher in the 1930’s ……..
Wanting to be a part of the Centerview community, Le Nora attended the Methodist Church a block from her boarding house. She walked out of Church one day, and there was the most handsome farm boy she had ever seen at the bottom of the steps, waiting to talk to her. “He had a nice tan from working in the fields, a sturdy build, beautiful brown wavy hair and a smile that could melt her heart.”
Carl Donovan asked her for a date that evening. “Before I knew what I was saying, I had agreed to go out with him.” We rode in his 1922 Black Ford Roadster that had a rumble seat in the back “we decided to go to a Methodist tent revival in Kinsley. We never did go in. We sat in Carl’s car all night and talked. I think we both felt it was love at first sight.”
Le Nora went back to the boarding house that night and wrote a “Dear John letter to Harold” and mailed his diamond back. She knew she had found the love of her life.
Carl was real popular in the community and introduced Le Nora to many of his friends. They didn’t have money, but the boys played basketball on the “Ramblers Town Team.” Carl played guard. The team consisted of farm boys, out of school, that still loved to play basketball. They won most of their games, and Le Nora and her new friends were always there to watch and cheer their men from the side line! She was joined by Vivian Huckstep, Lela Shannon, Lela Miller, Fern Mc Bride, the Livengood boys and some Fellsburg couples. They all became lifelong friends. Eventually their children were the children we kids played with on the farm.
They did not spend much money dating. They went to a Halloween party in October and Le Nora was dressed as a clown and Carl as a ghost. They would take the Roadster to Kinsley to dances and frequently played bridge with their friends. Le Nora liked to play for money, because she usually won! Every penny counted towards paying off her school loan and the rest she put into savings.
Carl’s Father, James Donovan was president of the School Board. In the thirties, they did not want women teachers to get married. It was expected women choose between teaching and marriage after World War I. It was felt teachers should exhibit model behavior and should function as homemakers. Post war it was felt the birth rate was too low, and women should be having more babies. If a teacher married, then she should be supported by the income of her husband.
Le Nora shared, “We were in love and did not want to wait to get married, but we knew we would need more income to buy equipment for farming. They asked the Superintendent of School and his wife, Mom’s best friend, to keep a secret and be their witness in marriage.” On Le Nora’s birthday, August 23, 1934, they took another trip in the Ford Roadster. This time Le Nora and Carl rode in the rumble seat, headed to Freeman, Oklahoma. There was no waiting period in Oklahoma, and their marriage would not be in the local Kansas newspaper.
The following year, Le Nora’s teaching contract was renewed for $79 a month, and their marriage remained a secret. It was the depression and they needed to earn and save every penny they could. At the end of her second year of teaching there was a dual wedding shower for Le Nora and the music teacher. They surprised each other and the attendees by sharing that they had each secretly married a year ago!