Our Valley Santa Clarita July/August 2016 - Page 30

Latino Love Stories Made in America Chapter Four: In Love and In War Summer of 1942, New York, NY America was at war. On July 20th, Willie turned 18 years old. That morning he went to his military draft board and registered. Registering was a formality. Every able bodied man who registered got drafted. That evening, knowing his freedom was about to end, he took a bold step. He and Linda walked leisurely, hand in hand, along the beautiful Riverside Park, between 135th and 145th streets. They enjoyed the cooling summer breeze of the Hudson River and the views it offered. Though no words were spoken, they had the same thoughts: what happens to their relationship now that Willie is going off to war? Linda spoke first. “How was the draft board today?” Willie stopped and looked directly into Linda’s eyes and said, “I love you, Linda.” By the look on his face, she knew he was tormented by his thoughts. She thought to herself, this beautiful young man, perfect in so many ways, was about to get drafted and go off to war. Now, he agonized about how to break up with her. Her heart ached, her stomach turned and her eyes filled with tears. This was it. This was how it would end: he being tormented and she a heartbroken wreck. She could hardly hear her own voice as she responded faintly, “I love you too.” Willie fought back his own tears and said, “I want to marry you. I want to marry you the sooner the better, tonight if possible. I know we have obstacles to overcome, your family and mine, but I don’t care about those. I only care that I love you and that you love me too. That’s all that matters.” Linda, relieved at not being dumped and excited with the marriage proposal, 30 jumped into his arms and whispered strongly into his ear … yes! They hugged each other tightly and then kissed passionately. Willie was ecstatic. The walk back was brisk and full of “kissing stops” along the way. However, in the back of his mind, Willie feared what his mother’s reaction to the news would be. ***** “You want to do WHAT?” Willie’s mother was beside herself at the news of her youngest of six children wanting to marry. “Linda is a fine lady, but she is EIGHT years your senior, she is DIVORCED and she has TWO kids! I am totally against this!” Two months later, on September 19th, Willie and Linda were married in a lovely ceremony and reception … at the home of Willie’s mother. ***** March of 1