The second week in May was typical of Intermountain spring, weatherwise. It started out fair and warm (temperatures as high as 80 degrees), with just a few afternoon pop-up thundershowers. More general showers, with temperatures barely getting to 50 degrees, arrived the second half of the week, with winds strong enough to put some telephone and electric lines out of business for short periods of time. Roads around Twin Falls and Hagerman were closed by massive, dense piles of tumbleweeds blown by the winds. The light rains that fell were welcomed because predictions remained pessimistic about summer moisture, but they would hardly have been mentioned in most of the country.

   As he had felt the previous May, Greg was thrilled by the ever changing parade of new bird arrivals, and new species migrating through. Warblers - orange-crowned, Audubon's, yellow, Wilson's - were everywhere. Orioles, tanagers, buntings and goldfinches had all arrived, as had both eastern and western kingbirds. He saw his first Lewis's woodpeckers of the spring - probably not unusual here, as it was in their normal range - but unexpected and not well known to him.

   Most of the duck species were paired up now, but there was no sign of nesting activity yet. Mourning doves were actively piling their stick nest together, and there were three young horned owls in the trees near last year's nest. (Greg thought he better keep the side trail off limits for the time being.)

   He liked Spring in Idaho.



Wednesday evening, May 11

Hi Greg,

   What an amazing couple of weeks we had! I loved it. (I love you.) However, I think I used up a lot of my energy reserve, and am still feeling a little tired. I'm not sick or anything, just recovering from near (but happy), exhaustion. And - from the looks of our tentative calendar - more to come!

   I wanted to tell you about one thing that happened here at school on the first night we saw "My Fair Lady." There was. a "talkathon" - a panel discussion - about Viet Nam. I would have liked to go (you would have, too, I bet), but I needed to see you and "My Fair Lady" more. I figured I'd hear about it, later.

   The discussion was sponsored by the college's "Committee on the Problems of War and Peace." I didn't know there was such a committee! The head of the group is Dr. Oboler, who you probably remember is our librarian. It sounds like 300 or 400 people attended, and that the discussions got lively.

   I didn't get a lot of details. Congressman Hansen wrote a letter - I guess he didn't actually come to the meeting - warning that Communism had already taken over eastern Europe and was spreading rapidly in Asia. The newspaper quoted him as writing that “It would be folly for the United States to abandon its battle against Communism in Viet Nam.” That may not have been the prevailing view. Dr. Hillabold, from our Economics Department (who was one of the discussion leaders), had this quote in the paper:  “It seemed that there was much less sympathy for U. S. action in Viet Nam this year than a year ago...  (Even) those who spoke in favor of the involvement seemed to me to be more in doubt about the issue.” I guess that could have been an optimistic opinion on his part, but I thought it was interesting.

   My Government professor showed me an editorial that was in last Sunday's paper. It was quoting some person who had been at the "talkathon," who thought that such a meeting couldn't have been held during World War II. He said: “At that time, to question was to be condemned as a traitor. Some people still try to brand dissenters as disloyal but the general atmosphere is much freer today. Even top leaders from the Democratic party dare to question President Johnson on his policies.” I don't know how much that really changes things, but it seems like a good direction to be going, doesn't it?

   The other thing I wanted to mention is that I did ask Matt about coming down to the refuge in June. He didn't think Dr. Fichter could come then, but he'd really like to, and thought that weekend would work for him. He had an idea that he's going to write or call you about that I thought was very interesting. Do you know what mist-netting is? I didn't, but you know I'm not a "science girl." (Well, maybe or maybe not! I think things are changing.) Anyway, it sounds fascinating, and maybe a lot of fun.

   Matt says they have big nets that they hoist on poles, in places where birds are likely to fly. The nets are very fine, and the birds don't see them until they crash into them. However, the "crashes" are very mild because the nets are very loose, and when a bird hits one, it just gets folded into a pocket of the net, unhurt. Then, you walk up, take the bird in your hand, band it or photograph it or just look at it, and then turn it loose, unharmed. Because the nets catch anything that flies into them, Matt says it's a great way to discover some of the less common species that you might miss if you are just bird watching.

   His idea - which, as I said, he'll tell you about in more detail - is to bring three or four students with him on Friday, scout out the best places to put the nets, then put up the poles that hold the nets, but not actually unfurl the nets until Saturday morning. Then, we'd mist-net Saturday and Sunday morning, before they returned to Pocatello Sunday afternoon. I told him that Daddy would probably let them stay in the bunkhouse.

   Now, one final thing. Rather than me coming down on the bus for Mandy's graduation, would it be too much trouble for you to come and get me on Friday?  Time just seems to be going by really fast, and I think we need to have some more discussion of weddings and honeymoons. We could stay at the refuge Friday night, have all day Saturday to talk, then go in to town Saturday evening. You could bring me back up here Sunday night, maybe doing it like we did last time, getting to Pocatello just in time for my Monday morning class. (I know that's an extra incentive for you!)

   So, that's my story for now. I love you, and will see you in a little over a week from now.



   Magic Valley temperatures remained unseasonably cool until about May 18, ranging from the 30s to 50s. There were occasional rain showers and gusty winds, but no big weather events. The rest of that week was dominated by high pressure, resulting in dry, sunny skies and temperatures between 45 and 75,  somewhat above normal. Wildlife trends continued as Greg expected, with winter birds pretty well gone from the refuge, and migrants and summer residents continuing to arrive.

   Matt did send a letter, with a proposal for coming to the refuge to study the "dicky bird" migration. Greg got him on the phone, and they discussed it in detail. What they decided was that Matt would come to the refuge on Friday, June 10, equipped with three or four students and some mist-nets. They'd meet around noon at the old diner, have lunch and do a little planning, then drive to headquarters. They'd get settled in the bunkhouse and Greg's house (he'd be over in the manager's house), then walk around and decide where to erect the nets. They'd set up the net poles, but not actually unfurl the nets until early Saturday morning. They'd plan to net Saturday, and again on Sunday morning before Matt and the students left to return to Pocatello.

   "That sounds good," Greg had said. "We shouldn't have any weather problems, except a possible afternoon thunderstorm. Of course, there's no guarantee we'll have a big migration, but there should be enough to keep us interested. There may not be quite enough beds to go around, but there's lots of floor space and a couple of big easy chairs. Bring food. We have stoves and refrigerators but, other than the diner, the next restaurant is 20 miles away. Oh, bring some good flashlights. There aren't any outside lights around headquarters, so it gets pretty dark outside.

   "I'm really looking forward to this!"


   As Greg and Vic had planned, he drove to Pocatello Friday, and brought her back to stay overnight at the refuge.  On the way, Vic shared the news that the Des Moines school board had formally responded to the arm band suit brought against them. They merely said that their ban was a "reasonable response" to the possibility of school disruption. They asked that the suit be dismissed because there were no legal grounds to challenge a school board decision on what could occur on school property.

   "Well, that was predictable," said Greg. "That's really their only defense. I wonder how long the judge will take to make a decision."

   Vic thought Greg seemed a little quiet, but he didn't seem to have anything more to say at that time, so she didn't press. They arrived at refuge headquarters just as Chuck was leaving. He and Vic shared a hug, and she told him they'd be coming to town Saturday afternoon.

   "So, what's wrong, Greg?" Vic asked, after they were settled in the house.

   "Nothing really, I guess. I've been kind of seething all week about a news article on Viet Nam. I didn't have anybody to seethe about it with, until you were with me. I probably wouldn't have thought about it even then, if it hadn't been for the stupidity of the arm band business."

   "So, I'm here now. Seethe at me a little more."

   He sat down on the couch beside her. "It's just more LBJ, trying to justify his war. He was at some political fund raiser in Chicago, and he labeled everybody who didn't agree with him as 'nervous nellies.'  He labeled them 'nice nellies' the last time congressmen disagreed with him." He got up. "I have the clipping over at my house. Let me go get it." He came back a few minutes later, sat down beside her, and unfolded a piece of news print.

   "Here it is. He urges everybody to stand with him until (quote) 'the gallant people of South Viet Nam have their own choice of their own government' (unquote). I don't understand all the politics, but apparently there's a lot of dissension in South Viet Nam about the 'help' we're giving them, and they're fighting among themselves about how to form a government. You remember last fall when Frank Church suggested we pull our troops out until South Viet Nam decided what they wanted out of this war? Apparently, that confusion is still going on.

   "The newspaper article says that LBJ as much as confessed that he didn't know how to reach a 'Vietnamese solution.' Supposedly, he said (quote) 'we are seeking a way out,' and 'we are trying to find a solution' (unquote). Gives you a feeling of great confidence, doesn't it?

   "But this is really the statement that set me off. He said he was confident that the American public (quote) 'will stand united until every boy is brought home safely' (unquote). Brought home safely? What about the thousands who are already dead  - 2,000 last year, and at least that many already this year? How about the greater thousands seriously wounded, physically or mentally? What about the thousands and thousands more who may well die and be maimed before he figures out his 'solution?' What the hell is he talking about? Doesn't he know there's a war going on?"

   When he stopped talking, Greg seemed almost to sink into himself. "I'm sorry, Vic. You're the only one I have to talk to about such things. They build up in me until I can be with you, then you get the full brunt of all my frustrations and worries. You get all the angry side of me!"

   "That's true, but you're not angry or frustrated with me. I'm just your release valve. Besides, I get your angry side, but I also get your lovey-dovey side."

   He glanced at her face, and couldn't help smiling. "Lovey-dovey?"

   "Well, I get to share your grief, but I also get to share all your love. You do the same for me. That seems like a pretty fair balance to me. Doesn't it to you?"

   He softly touched her cheek. "Yes, it does. Very fair, and really nice."

   She let his hand rest on her a little longer. "I have a problem, Greg - probably not as great as we've been discussing, but quite important to me. I am starving! Do we have anything to eat?"

   He stood up. "Did you have anything special in mind?"

   "Isn't it about time for pepperoni pizza and pinot noir?"

   "That sounds good, but I don't have any wine, and I don't think the pizza place delivers quite this far out. I can check the refrigerators. I think both your dad's and mine are pretty well stocked."

   "Yes, please."

   He went into the kitchen, and she heard the refrigerator door open. "The first thing I see is some of your mom's lasagna."


  "You don't want any other suggestions?"

  "No. I love her lasagna. Heat it up a little, and let's eat."


   After dinner and a little kitchen clean-up, they settled back on the couch. "When you wrote to me about bringing you here," Greg began, "You said that we had some things to discuss about weddings and honeymoons. I took 'discuss' as a code word, meaning that you were inviting us to 15 or 16 hours of non-stop, intense sexual pleasure. Correct?"

   She smiled, and patted his cheek. "Greg, my one and only true love, that is what is known as wishful thinking. Extreme wishful thinking. 'Planning' was code for 'planning.' Time is marching on, and we need a specific time and place for our wedding. We need someone to officiate at said wedding. Mom, Mandy and I probably need to plan a trip to Boise for some bridal shopping." She paused. "There must be several dozen other items that need discussion right away."

   "So, you're saying that I didn't need to plan for a night and a day of unexcelled, lustful bliss?"

   "I doubt you needed to 'plan' for that. I think you're probably always ready. But, not to disappoint you completely, here's what I can offer.

   "Very shortly, I'm going to be ready for bed. From the time I crawl under the covers until I am in a deep, peaceful sleep for the next eight to ten hours, there may be a window of up to a half hour. During that time, for whatever you have to offer, I'm your girl."

   'You are my girl, but you've set me a daunting challenge. A  half hour?"

   "Maybe less. I'm pretty sleepy."


   Eight hours later, they woke. "You said a half-hour. It was ten minutes."

   " I didn't say a half-hour. I said 'maybe less.' And it was more like 15 minutes, not ten."

   "Well, I wasn't wearing a watch, but it felt like ten to me."

   "But wasn't it a lovely way to drift off to sleep, our bodies pressed tightly together, and wrapped in each other's arms?"

   "It was. I liked it a lot. But ten minutes?"

   "More like fifteen."

   He was silent beside her for a moment. "So, no 16-hour sexual marathon?"

   "My darling Greg, we have a good 50 years ahead of us. Surely in that time, we'll be able to squeeze in your 'marathon'."

   "Fifty years! I probably won't even be able to move in 50 years!"

   "I have no doubt that you'll still be moving - in the right ways - very well, in 50 years. But I didn't say 'in' 50 years; I said in the next 50 years."

   "Well, I hope it's closer to Year One than Year 50."

   "We'll see."

   Silence again, for a few moments. "So, what do we do, now?"

   "We share a deep, delicious, but not overly sensual or provocative good morning kiss. Then we get up. You make me a nice breakfast. Then, we settle down to the business at hand, planning our wedding."


   They found the fixings for a ham and cheddar cheese omelet, added wheat toast and orange juice, and settled down to a leisurely breakfast. Later, Vic took charge.

   "We need a definite date and place for the wedding, and we need to line up somebody to conduct the service. It seems like we have a lot of time, but it's a small town without a lot of possibilities, so we need to get our requests in early. Also, we might have competition, so we better pick an alternate date, just in case.

   "We talked about the weekend of July 15. It seems like Saturday, the 16th, would be the best day for most people who might want to attend. Using the same logic for an alternate time, that would probably make it Saturday, the 23rd. Is that too late?"

   "No, I don't think so, but let's hope for the earlier Saturday. So, where are we going to have it?"

   "Well, that could be a little problem in our small town. I've always thought an outdoor wedding would be nice, but I just can't think of any place that would work. We'd still need someplace indoors for a reception, afterward. Also, we could have an afternoon thunder shower in July. That would definitely dampen the festivities. I think it has to be indoors. That's really okay with me, if we can find a good place.

   "I talked to Mom a little bit about that. We don't have a church - and I'm not thinking of a church wedding, anyway. She suggested our community center. It's pretty new, and it's bright and clean, with plenty of room - even for a little dancing, if anybody wanted to. Mom thinks it's available for such things, but there could be quite a bit of competition. We probably need to get our request in about right now. If it isn't available, I'm not sure what our next choice would be. I guess I'll leave it to Mom and Mandy to look for alternatives."

   "When do we get our license?"

   "I think any time the week before. I think that's pretty easy to do. The next hard thing - after the wedding location, I mean - is who do we get to handle the service? We don't have any minister or pastor, so it has to be some civilly-appointed person, like the mayor.  Daddy knows a lot of people in and around town. Let's get him to look into that for us."

   They went on to talk about flowers, cakes, tuxedos, invitations, motel rooms for out-of-towners, drinks and snacks, and quite a few more odds and ends. "Wow!" Greg exclaimed. "This is complicated. Maybe we should have eloped when I suggested it."

   "Maybe, but then we would have missed 'My Fair Lady'."

  "Or maybe we would have only seen it twice, rather than three times."

  "That's true. Well, anyway, we missed our chance, so I guess we have to go ahead with all this troublesome stuff. So,  what's next? Honeymoon?"

   'Well, I think we talked about a general schedule before, but I was thinking we better plan some specific dates.  I was thinking starting the week of June 13. I still think that's good, but with the mist-netting that weekend, I think we maybe should delay our start until maybe Wednesday."

   "Mist-netting? That's definitely on?"

   "Oh, I guess we haven't talked about that, yet. Yes, Matt is definitely planning to come down. We can talk about the details, later."

   "No, let's talk about them now - keep everything in sequence."

   "Sure. Well, I did get a note from Matt, and then we talked on the phone. It's pretty much as you and he discussed. He and some students will come down Friday morning, meet us at the diner for lunch and general orientation, then come on to headquarters. They'll stay in the bunkhouse, and in my house. I'll come over with you.

    "That first evening, I thought we'd let them alone to eat and get organized. I suspect they might want to go bird watching after dinner, which is fine. Saturday night, I thought we'd have everybody over here, to share a meal and then tell bird banding and bird watching stories. We'll mist-net a little Sunday morning, then they'll leave about noon to go home.

   "I hope your dad and Tim can join us on Friday. They haven't mist-netted, but they have a lot of experience with duck banding, so they know the general procedures. Also, Tim might be able to help get the net poles erected. They don't have to be involved Saturday or Sunday, unless they want to.

   "I assume you want to be involved?"

   "Of course, and I think Mandy will want to come along. She likes to try new things and meet new people, and it will give her a little taste of college life."

   "Sure, that sounds good. Anything else you wanted to know about that weekend?"

      "No, I just wanted to be sure I understood what was going to happen. So, back to the honeymoon. You said you thought we should give ourselves a couple days after the mist-netters left, before we start for California."

   "Yep. So, we could leave here on Wednesday, June 15. We could make it to the Bay Area in two long days, but it's our honeymoon. Why should we rush? I was thinking we'd go to Twin Falls, and then go south to catch the Interstate in Nevada, then west. We could get to Winnemucca without too long a day, maybe even a little farther. We could make it over Donner Pass and most of the way to Oakland on the second day, but it would be a shame for you to miss Lake Tahoe, one of the prettiest places in the world."

   "That sounds nice."

   "It is, very nice. I've hiked in the mountains west of the lake several times, and it's excellent country. Anyway, from Winnemucca - or wherever we end up that first night - we'd go through Reno to Truckee - which is just inside California - then go south along the Tahoe shore all the way to its south end. I'm sure we could find somewhere close to the lake to stay the night.

    "It's only about 200 miles from Tahoe to Oakland, so we could push right through on Friday. But I'm thinking it would be nice to stop an hour or so out, spend the night, get cleaned up, get a good night's sleep - and maybe some honeymoon-type stuff - and get to my parents' house mid-morning Saturday. We'd have the rest of that day and all Sunday with them. As it turns out, Sunday is Father's Day, so my siblings are almost certain to be around, too.

   "And suddenly, Monday morning, all our obligations are taken care of, and our real honeymoon begins. The next two days, I see us reveling in giant redwood trees and endless oceans. After that, we just decide how we want to get home."

   "Redwoods and oceans. It sounds lovely every time you talk about it."

   "So, now we go to town, and get sister Mandy graduated."


   That evening, Mandy gave them a detailed description of her Senior prom. She was still excited, and she still had Greg's white rose (although it was a little worse for wear, now). As Greg and Vic knew, she had gone with the same boy who took her to her Junior prom. (He still wasn't "long term boyfriend material). He'd dressed in a tux, and brought her a corsage. She'd danced almost every dance, some with him, but also "with a bunch of other guys." Her girlfriends loved her gown. She was going to get some pictures. (Greg reminded  her that some of the film in his camera was of her.) She was truly "the belle of the ball!"

   They had an early dinner at the pizza place, then returned to the house, where Mandy's parents presented her with two new charms for her bracelet (a little schoolhouse, and a mortar board). Vic told her that she had a gift to give her, but it had to be delayed for a while. Mandy protested the wait, but Vic reminded her that she was the sister who liked surprises. 

     By six o'clock, Greg and Vic were on their way back to the refuge for the night. Monday morning, they were up early, and headed east to get Vic to her morning class. It had been close to 80 degrees Sunday afternoon, so it was somewhat surprising to wake to a heavy frost. The weather station minimum read 18 degrees, which must have been close to a record for that late in the year. It was a chilly trip to Pocatello, but they made it on time.


Wednesday evening, May 26

   Hi Greg, I'm madly studying for final exams (next week!), but I wanted to tell you about an editorial that was in last Sunday's Pocatello newspaper. Apparently, Congress is now seriously debating some changes to the military draft, and some have asked for a  full review of the current system. They say the draft is very unfair to poorer and less educated men. Selective Service is obviously opposed to any outside review. Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense, wants every man to serve two years mandatory, preferably in uniform but maybe in the Peace Corps, or in some kind of social work.

   The writer of the editorial says that McNamara is pushing for the two-year mandatory for everybody because Defense is bringing back (quote) "the holy war against the communist conspiracy" (unquote). Last Saturday, they also started giving the new test that people with educational deferments have to pass to keep their deferrals. He says (quote) "the test, unfortunately, blatantly favors those students with good middle-class background who went to adequate schools before college and were sufficiently motivated to go to class and get good grades" (unquote). In other words, it's another example of the draft's unfairness to the poor and less educated.

   Next, he points out - like we did - how stupid it is to train all the new draftees when we have all the Army reserves fully trained, but not called up "for political reasons." I don't understand what it is about the Reserves not being used for the war, but it does seem crazy.

   I love his final point. (Quote) "If military service is a waste of time, if it unfairly takes two years of a man’s life away, if it sets a young man’s timetable of success back two year or more, why not give everyone the same disadvantage? Or no one?” (Unquote!) 

   I don't know if any of this can make real change happen, but it's encouraging to me that some people who COULD make a difference are speaking out and making suggestions.

  Well, that's all I had, and I really, really do need to study. Oh, wait. One other thing. You remember how cold it felt when we got here Monday morning? It felt cold because we set an all- time record for that date, and for so late in the spring - 23 degrees! I guess there was some real damage to sugar beets, because they were just starting to grow. Later that day, the temperature rose to 80 degrees!

   Now, I am really going. I love you - Vic



Pocatello, Idaho - May 31, 1966

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland,

   Your son, Greg, may have mentioned my name a time or two, or showed you a photo of me. If not, surprise! I'll be your daughter-in-law beginning in July. I love your son more than anyone or anything else in the world. (Pepperoni pizza may be a close second). I think he feels the same about me. (I'm not sure where the pizza would rate with him.)

   I was born Victoria Anderson in North Dakota. I love the name Victoria, but usually I think of myself as  "Vic." It is a boy's name but, as you can see from the photo, I am a girl. I will be barely 20 when Greg and I marry, which means that - by the standard calendar - I am two years and a little bit more younger than him. However, this isn't a problem. We have discussed it, and he realizes that, in woman-years, I am actually the same age as him (or perhaps slightly older).

    My parents - Chuck and Alice Anderson - and my sister, Mandy, are also North Dakotans. We are all Norwegians, although for some unexplainable reason, I have dark hair. Greg doesn't seem to mind that curious circumstance. In fact, he  wrote me a long story explaining where my dark hair came from, but I think he made it up.

   As you can see in the enclosed photo, I am already practicing to be a good wildlife refuge wife, by banding a duck with Greg.

   You will like me as a daughter-in-law. I am fun, and funny, and you can brag to your friends that I am very tall, and that I am the only Norwegian you know who has dark hair. You will find that I am a joy to have around, and fully worthy of the Cleveland name.

   Seriously, I'm really looking forward to meeting you both - and hopefully Cliff and Janna, too. I've never been in California, so it will all be new. I want to see where Greg grew up and where he went to school, and he has promised me the bonus of some redwood trees and an ocean (both never seen before, and high on my wish list).

See you soon,



   The Clevelands got Vic's letter on Friday, June 3. Merry read it first. She smiled the whole time, and laughed out loud on occasion.

   "Cliff, you have to read this from our future daughter-in-law. She's a nut!"

   Cliff took the letter, and read it. His responses mimicked Merry's. "That's a clever introduction, all right." He looked at the photo. "And besides marrying the boss' daughter,  he certainly picked a comely one."

   "He sent those other pictures of her, before, so I knew what to expect. She certainly is striking, but I have a feeling there's a lot more to that package than mere prettiness. I'm excited to meet her, in person."


   Vic finished her final exams on June 2. Greg collected her on June 3, and they stayed at the refuge for two nights, before going to town.

  School was out for the summer.

 To The Writing It Down Homepage

Leave a Comment:


© Sanford Wilbur 2024