My parents, Ann and Irvin fell in love when they were in 3rd grade. They both went to Jones School in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The year was 1930-31, so the county’s economy was in rough shape.
My dad was the son of a brilliant sometimes drunken Architect who didn’t have any money. My mom was the only daughter of a wealthy surgeon. Still they loved each other with a brilliant playground passion.
Around October Irven got the nerve to ask permission to walk Ann home from school every day. My grandfather said yes, as long as their maid followed them.
After the first week of walking and carrying her books, Irvin realized he would never win the girl and her family over because he was poor. So, he made up a lie that went something like this.
“You know what? My uncle owns a circus and it has eight elephants. I’m his favorite nephew, so when he dies, I get the whole circus and the girl who marries me gets her own elephant.’
Eight year old Ann believed him and was impressed. She agreed to marry him, on the spot.
They were married fifteen years latter, but there weren’t any elephants. My mom always said she married him under false pretense and demanded he make good on his promise.
So at least once a year my mom received an elephant, sometimes it was a little gold charm (I wear that one around my neck) a bronze figurine or African etching. But Ann got her elephants and Irvin got his girl.
Family stories are one of the few things we can leave our kids that have real value and this has always been one of my favorites.