CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

September 2, 2010

We Meet, Date, Become Engaged…


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

WE MEET, DATE, BECOME ENGAGED…

Monte W. Holland

Carolyn’s comments are italicized, in parentheses

     In August, 1963, I moved to Buffalo. I’d accepted a position in the physics department at the State University of New York at Buffalo—SUNY Buffalo.

     I needed a place to stay—preferably a room with kitchen privileges, similar to what I had in Evanston, Illinois, during my Ph. D. studies at Northwestern University. One listing was near the campus. I didn’t check the landlord’s name, or I would have realized that Ida Litman was Jewish. She was a widow, probably in her seventies, living upstairs in a two-flat house. Her widowed daughter-in-law lived downstairs. The fairly new Nicholson Street house was on a street that dead-ended at the railroad tracks just beyond the house.

     Mrs. Litman was unsure about renting to a non-Jew, a situation made more complicated because she was an Orthodox Jewish who separated dairy and meat dishes/meals. However, the widows finances were tight, and Ida was anxious to rent a room in her flat. She set aside a third set of dishes for me to cook with and eat from. It must have offended her when I cooked pork—I wasn’t a vegetarian yet.

     I rented from Mrs. Litman for three years, until my marriage. In January 1965, when she and her daughter-in-law sold the house, she moved to a two-bedroom Kenmore Avenue apartment, across from the Colvin Theater. She asked me to move with her.

     I began attending University Methodist Church on Bailey Avenue, just before Dr. Alfred Gross became the pastor. I think he taught at Alfred University before that appointment. He was an intellectual who challenged me in my spiritual growth. When I challenged one of his sermons, he offered me an opportunity to preach—my first time in the pulpit.

     Tom Bartlow, a math graduate student, and I, became friends when we shared teaching a young adult Sunday school class. We lived the idealism of the ’60’s in the midst of many very conservative church members.

     Not long after Dr. Gross asked me to serve as head of the Administrative Board. he told me that he had to replace me with Wayne Seeley, a more conservative, less opinionated person. This was my first experience of being directly black-balled by a church group. It gave me a new awareness about how resistant many church groups are to change and new ideas.

      Tom, Carolyn and I did a random survey of households on the East side of Buffalo, for the local Presbyterian-run community center. The eye-opening experience was in a predominantly Black community and in Black homes. The gracious interviewees lived in well-cared-for homes.

     I met Diane Bauza at University Church when I was 27 and she was almost 20. Diane worked downtown as a secretary, and was dating Chuck Sedita, the nephew of Buffalo’s mayor. A vibrant person, she reached out to someone like me, someone inexperienced with women. We saw each other a number of times in the fall of 1965. For me, dating her was more therapy than a real relationship. We sat in the car, talking for hours, doing little else. While we were out shopping in November 1965, the big blackout occurred. We attended a Bible study in the SUNY’s Student Union.

     Just after Christmas that year Carolyn stopped at Diane’s house when I was there. (Monte opened a Christmas present from Diane, a tie. I was sitting on a piano bench. Somehow the conversation led to the fact that Monte needed a part-time microscope worker, and I was looking for part time work. I was returning to classes full time. Monte and Diane drove me home.)

     Although we both attended and struggled with an introductory music class, I didn’t meet her there. (I sat in the front row, he sat in the back row. I didn’t even notice him.) In early 1966 I needed a person to do microscope scanning for my research project. I knew Carolyn was doing microscope work as a medical technologist in her job on campus. After the job interview, she agreed to take the job (and we set up a work schedule). She never showed up. (I was offered a job at Children’s Hospital.) I called her. She said she didn’t want the job. (When he said that, he asked me out.  The date was conveniently timed for just after Valentine’s Day.)

     We saw The Spy that Came in from the Cold at the Colvin Theater, near my apartment. Carolyn was quite nervous on the date. (I also didn’t enjoy the movie, and made snide comments throughout the show.) She insulted my choice of a place to go after the movie—Santora’s Pizza, on Main Street down from the college. After the date I think she thought I’d never ask her out again. (We had a brief kiss after that first date, which I did think would be our last date.)

     We did go out again. (When he called for that second date, I had a word of knowledge that we would marry and he would become a pastor.)Because of her job at Children’s Hospital, many dates began late at night (some at Holiday Showcase on Union Rd.—where we still sometimes eat when we visit Buffalo). We talked or ate on these dates (we wouldn’t talk much, though—Monte just didn’t talk. On one date, I decided I wasn’t going to speak unless he started a conversation. We had two hours of silence!)

     Carolyn lived at 741 LaSalle Avenue, with Grandma Chase (Dorothy Chase, my step-grandmother). Sharing the apartment provided Grandma Chase a place to live and helped Carolyn with the rent.

     We were both a little naïve in those days. I liked Carolyn because she had good values. I saw her as a very caring person, concerned for others. She was hard-working. She had nice legs.

     That spring was difficult for me. I wasn’t sure if or where Carolyn fitted in. I knew little of being a good husband and companion. I was always a loner. I went home in May after the semester ended. (While he was gone, I was unsure what would happen. I received a call from a man who had spent six months trying to find a way to contact me—we’d met at the hospital. I decided to reward his efforts and we went out for ice cream at Antoinette’s on Transit Rd. At the end of the date, I tell him we cannot go out again.)

     When I returned, we continued dating. We planned a trip to Tanglewood (Massachusetts), to hear the Boston Symphony, in late June. Carolyn developed a bowel problem, forcing us to cancel the trip. In late June we went on an outing to a park with a stream in southern Erie County. While standing in that stream I asked her to marry me. She accepted.

     On July Fourth we visited her family on Dartmouth Avenue, where I met them and where we announced our engagement. We still have a picture taken of us in front of the garage that day. We were both pretty thin. (My mother said he would always take care of me and asked me if I was pregnant, apparently her criteria for becoming engaged and marrying.)

     Later that month we drove to Dekalb, New York, where Carolyn met my family. She probably felt the scrutiny—my whole family was at Mama and Papa’s to check her out. I think they wondered who I would bring, because they never saw me with a woman before (since I looked sixteen, they thought I was much younger than Monte, and were concerned he was robbing the cradle!). I think she passed muster because she had a vibrancy that was above and beyond the rather reserved character of our family members. (This year, on September 3, 2010, we celebrate our 44th anniversary.)

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ADDITIONAL READING:

FROM A FIRST DATE TO A 42nd ANNIVERSARY

MY LABOR DAY WEEKEND

PENNSYLVANIA WEDDING, (LAMOINE) MAINE ROOTS

SEVENTY YEARS OF LOVE

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OF NEW POSTS ON CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

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Win one of our monthly prizes!

Be the person who makes the most comments.

For further details click on

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or visit the page MONTHLY PRIZE FOR COMMENTS

at the top of the column to the right. 

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4 Comments »

  1. What a coincidence. I was one of Dr. Holland’s undergraduate physics students at UB in the 1965-1969. He was my advisor on my senior honors project. We spent lots of time looking through an optical microscope at glass photographic plates to calculate the momentum conserved by the neutral disintegration particles (maybe K mesons? long time ago…)
    I hope that you all know that Dr. Shigeji Fujita’s retirement party is being planned at UB for October 9. I am planning to come home to Buffalo for it.
    I very much enjoyed reading your blog about how you both met and courted.
    So many common memories from Buffalo.
    Bless you both,
    John Baker
    14 S. Lace Arbor
    The Woodlands, TX 77382

    Comment by John Baker — September 14, 2010 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  2. Another coincidence—I have a cousin living in The Woodlands, Texas—Candlenut Place. Monte is asleep right now, and I will bring his attention to this comment in the morning. Thanks for commenting—Carolyn Cornell Holland

    Comment by carolyncholland — September 14, 2010 @ 11:27 pm | Reply

  3. This comment was originally posted on the Contest Rules page:

    Hi Carolyn and Monte: I enjoyed Monte’s article about how you met. Congratulations on your anniversary! One of these days, we will meet, I hope. How is your book going?

    Best regards, Janet Applefield

    Comment by carolyncholland — September 15, 2010 @ 1:28 am | Reply

  4. Good story for a movie

    Comment by Fred Wells — March 18, 2014 @ 6:29 am | Reply


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