How My Mother Met My Father

How My Mother Met My Father

My mother, Ruth Elizabeth Hale, liked men. She had a great desire for admiration. She felt
it was necessary as a young person to have a boyfriend to enjoy life. And she was a magnet
for members of the opposite sex. Men adored her.

Ruth Elizabeth Hale 1938

Mother’s first real love affair was with a man named Edward Wheeler. His father was a
senator, and a friend of my mother’s father, my grandfather. Mother’s father liked the
family. When they began their relationship, my mother was 17, and Ed was 21. She was
about to attend Connecticut College, and Ed went to school nearby, to Yale. Or was it
Harvard? After her first year at college, Ed and mother drifted apart. This was partly
because his sisters disapproved; they did not want their brother to marry an “heiress.” But
it was also because my mother was not interested in Ed’s intellectual friends. She did not
like the mind games they played, and she found him lacking in fun and romance.

The years passed, and Mother dated many others in the New England colleges. Just before
Thanksgiving, in Mother’s senior year at Connecticut College, her father called her to invite
her to a party. He told her that he had arranged to have a “table” at the Thanksgiving
Dance at the Chevy Chase Club near Washington, DC. He wanted her to bring a date and
join his table.
Mother said, “I really don’t know anyone in Washington anymore. Whom can I bring?”
And her father said, ” Why don’t you bring Ed Wheeler? He lives in Washington, and you
used to really like him.”

All right, I will try,” said Mother. When she phoned Ed Wheeler, he greeted her warmly,
saying, “Thank you for asking me, but Charlotte has just announced our marriage
engagement. So, I cannot be your escort.”
Mother was surprised, but she said, “Well, why don’t you bring Charlotte and join our
table, anyway?” And Ed accepted. He seemed pleased that Mother wanted to be with him
and Charlotte.

REH and WTB Jr engagement 1939

Mother, however, was in a panic! She called an old Washington girlfriend, Jessica, and
said, “You must help me! My old boyfriend, Ed Wheeler, is engaged. I have asked him to
bring his fiancé and sit with my father (who has a date himself) and me at our table for a
dinner dance at the Chevy Chase Club. You know everyone!” Mother implored. “I need a
date, and I have no idea whom to ask?!”
I know the perfect man!” Jessica said, “His name is Wiley Buchanan. He is a bachelor, living
at the Kennedy Warren Apartments. He is charming and unattached. You will really like

So, with Jessica’s help, Mother asked Wiley Buchanan, and he accepted.

On the night of the party, and on meeting Wiley for the first time, Ruth found him
attractive, engaging, and funny. He spent the entire evening paying particular attention to
her. Sometimes, he would place his hand on hers at the table; it was “cheek to cheek”
when they danced. He fussed over her, waited on her, and acted as if they were a serious
“couple.” She had a marvelous time and did not feel slighted by having her old boyfriend
there with his fiancé.

When he took her home, my mother asked Wiley, “Why did you pay so much attention to
me, a girl you have never met before?”

Lt to Rt Wiley (my father), Ruth( my mother), (Mothers friend, Jessica), and Frank (Wiley’s friend, Frank)

“Jessica told me Ed was your old boyfriend,” Wiley replied “I wanted to make sure he
knew that you were attractive to another man. I wanted him to see that another man
would be attentive to you. I did not want you to feel sad or slighted, sitting at a table with a
happy couple, newly engaged.”

This thoughtfulness extended on first meeting by Wiley Buchanan to my mother made a
considerable impression on her. It was typical of my father to do this. In many ways, he
was extraordinarily thoughtful and empathetic.

They continued to see each other when Mother was in Washington. He came up to Connecticut to visit. But what sealed the deal was something he did in the spring. Mother took a class on “homemaking,” and one of the assignments was to make a list of what they would like in a man. The girls wrote down what they wished a boyfriend or husband “should” do or be for them to fall in love with him. Mother wrote that she wanted to find a
man who would buy her presents for no reason, just because he loved her!

While she was taking this class, a package arrived for her. Wondering what it could be, she
opened it slowly. Inside was a white satin evening bag, decorated with sparkles. A note
inside said, “When I saw this, I thought of you. It is perfect for you. I had to buy it for you.”
The package, of course, was from Wiley Buchanan. He sent it because he knew she loved
pretty things. He sent it because he was thoughtful and loved giving gifts to people. It was
not a fake move. After Ruth and Wiley married, he continued to buy her gifts for the rest of
his life until Alzheimer’s took his mind.

REH and WTB Jr engagement 1939

When her friends in the homemaking class at Connecticut College heard about this gift
coming out of the blue, they all said, ” I guess you had better marry Wiley Buchanan!”

And she did.

Copyright©. 2024 Bonnie B. Matheson

6 thoughts on “How My Mother Met My Father

    1. I love it…. Such an incredibly beautiful love story. Your parents are just like you BONNIE, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say you are your parents daughter. Robert looks like his grandfather and you resemble both your mother and father. Thanks for sharing.

  1. Bonnie, as always, your stories take me off to another time and place. Always so well written, and with such charm, your stories remind us of a sweeter, gentler time and an elegance that is sadly lacking in today’s world. Thank you for the wonderful escape!

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