Thursday, February 14, 2013

To My Valentine

My sweet Valentine girl (date & place unknown)

Dear George,
Today is the 56th Valentine’s Day that Katja and I have celebrated together.  I fell in love the first time I saw her at a freshman mixer at Antioch in 1955, though it took a year and a quarter before we ever met.  We were on coop jobs in Madison and Milwaukee, and Katja came home to visit Menominee and meet my family over spring break.  We were pretty inseparable ever since.  

Katja in her bridal gown

Katja was a beautiful bride.  We got married at the Quaker chapel in Yellow Springs on August 28, 1960.  It was a tumultuous time, and we were both thrilled and relieved, though I was overcome by uncontrollable sweating because of the magnitude of the day.  

Katja with our dog Jacques at Faber’s Fabrics, Ann Arbor

We moved to Ann Arbor for graduate school, and Katja took a part-time job as a sales clerk at Faber’s Fabrics to help support us.  She bought a sewing machine and started enthusiastically turning out shirts, tablecloths, and curtains.  Steve and Margie, my brother and sister-in-law, gave us their standard poodle Jacques who became an integral member of our family.  

Doris, Vicki, and Katja at my graduation in Ann Arbor

Katja loved my parents and siblings, and they loved her.  Menominee was such a startling departure from urban Philadelphia that Katja found it an amazing place to be.  Katja and my sister Vicki were (and are) particularly close.  

Katja at our apartment complex

I took a faculty job and we moved to Cincinnati in 1966.  Katja found us a townhouse at a brand new apartment complex on Cincinnati’s outskirts, and we moved on to a new, adult phase of life as young professionals.

Katja, J, and Jacques

At a holiday party in December 1968 Katja announced to the guests and myself that she was pregnant.  Having no idea that she’d decided to discontinue her birth control pills, I was more or less stunned.  J’s birth in 1969 launched the most significant and rewarding part of our marriage.  

At the racetrack

Katja formed a women’s consciousness-raising group which met at our house in the early 1970’s.  Within two years all of the members had divorced their husbands except Katja.  Whew! 

Katja with Thumper

Katja has always loved warm and fuzzy things.  Thumper was the first of several rabbits that she bought from a young woman in our Clifton neighborhood.  Thumper was allowed the run of our apartment until we discovered that he liked to chew through electric cords.  

Katja and J at Mt. Airy Forest

Both Katja and I had grown up in families with multiple kids, and there’d been a sharper demarcation between children and adults.  With a solo child, though, Katja , J, and I operated much more as a cohesive threesome.  Weekend hikes in Mt. Airy Forest were just one of our many regular activities.  

At Beach Haven

Katja’s parents, Buck and Helen, owned a cottage at Beach Haven on the New Jersey shore, and we’d visit for a week each summer.  Everybody loved being on the Atlantic Ocean beach.  

Katja at Schloegel’s in Menominee

We’d also go to Menominee each August for a family reunion.  Those were some of the happiest times.  Schloegel’s was Katja’s favorite restaurant, and we’d enjoy tasty breakfasts and broiled whitefish dinners there. 

Katja and Dave with Winston

One day the mid-70’s I came home, and there was an animal in the kitchen that looked more like a sheep than a dog (our Bedlington Terrier, Winston).  Thinking that a family with a kid should also have a dog, Katja ordered Winston from Illinois.  

Katja and J

It was a big shock when J grew up and went off to college at Columbia.  Mother and son, however, have always remained very close, and they share lots of genuine laughs every time they’re in contact. 

J and K, our son and daughter-in-law at med school graduation

When J and K fell in love, partnered, and eventually married we got to add the daughter to our family that we’d always wanted.  

Buck, Katja, and Helen

Katja’s parents, Buck and Helen, moved to Cincinnati in about 1992, and she devoted a lot of time and love in providing daily support to them in their later years. 

Katja with Mike and Duffy at Mt. Storm Park

I came home one day in June 2002 and found two furry sheepdog fluffballs in our kitchen doorway.  At first I was aghast, but Mike and Duffy won our hearts immediately.   

With our grandkids L and V

In the last several years our grandson and granddaughter, L and V, have become a major part of our family lives.  Here we are together on an outing last year in New Orleans. 

Dave and Katja in NOLA

Now, both retired, we are ready for more adventures.  That’s what’s good about being Valentines for so long.

G-mail Comments
-Phyllis S-S (2-18): What a lovely, love letter.  We're just back from chicago - Julius Caesar at the Shakespeare theater and then Der Meistersinger at Chicago Opera.  Both wonderful performances…  Phyllis  
-Linda C (2-15):  Lovely, just beautiful
-Gayle C-L (2-14): David,  Now that's a beautiful love story!!!!
Such a nice L*** tribute to Katya and your life.  That's a Happy Valentines Day!!  Lol.    G 
-Donna D (2-14): david this is lovely and wonderful!  hope katja loves it!


  1. Now THAT is a love story worth telling - and knowing! Thank you both!

    1. Thanks, Terry. It was enjoyable to go back over some of our history. Dave