About a decade before my parents tied the knot, another woman took the name of Mrs. Ebenezer Ray. Her name was Lucille. For a long time, that’s all I knew. My mother had told me my father had had a first wife. And after my mom died, I found my dad and Lucille’s divorce papers in my mother’s dresser drawer. When I told a friend that I’d thought it curious that my mother would save the divorce papers from her husband’s first marriage, but none of his writings, the friend suggested that it was by design. My mother wanted to make sure my father was free to marry. Knowing my mother, that is exactly what she was thinking. But knowing my mother, if she’d had copies of his columns, she would have kept those too.
Back to Lucille. As far back as 1935, my father started mentioning her in his columns. She was a soprano who performed with a group he seemed quite taken by— the Amapa Musical and Dramatic Club. By day, apparently, Lucille was a beautician.
“A well-known newspaperman said two little words, ‘I Do’ to a charming young lady who became his bride in the presence of a host of friends last Sunday afternoon . . . ” a New York Age article read on April 29, 1939.
Her brother-in-law, Austin Ahmed, walked her down the aisle. Her niece, Nevolia Ahmed, was her maid of honor. also in attendance were Lucille’s sister, Hazel and my father’s cousin, Lottie McConney.
There’s more on Lucille: the columns my father wrote about the wedding and the challenges of being sharing a household. Census records that serve as a window into her past. And yes, those divorce documents.
I do realize that had this marriage lasted I would not exist.
Still, the incurable romantic in me wants to let this sweet, romantic chronicle of their happy day stand on its own.