Chapter 3 1950 - Henry and Juliette

When Henry and Juliette had been dating for a year, Henry proposed. Juliette did not hesitate to accept, and they planned an August wedding. Juliette asked her best friend, Sarah Jennings, to be her maid of honor. Henry asked his brother Ed to be his best man.

Juliette was well liked in the community, and several of her friends asked if they could be one of her bridesmaids. Before long, her bridesmaid list was almost as long as the guest list for the wedding itself. Not wanting to offend anyone, she agreed that all of them could be her bridesmaids, but rather than stand at the altar with her, they would occupy the first few pews of the church where the wedding would take place. The local paper saw the novelty of the situation, and did a short feature on the day of the wedding.

August 12 arrived quicker than anyone could have expected, and they were soon a married couple. They honeymooned at Lake Tahoe, spending a total of three days in the splendor of the mountains. When they returned, they moved into Henry's small home and soon Juliette brought her feminine sensibility to make a real home. Juliette made sure that Henry had clean clothes to wear and Henry made sure they had plenty of fresh eggs. Juliette kept her job at the grocery store. Henry built a workshop where he could spend time on “his projects.”

When the couple had time to spare, they spent their evenings enjoying radio programs like The Lone Ranger and The Adventures of Superman and occasionally going out to the movies.

Now that most of Henry’s family was in town, he was upbeat and largely happy. He enjoyed reading letters from his brother Ed, now back on the family farm, and getting updates on his nephew and niece. Juliette’s brother was now in High School and playing on the freshman football team, the “Tigers.” As a couple, they were like a literal picture of Americana, straight out of Norman Rockwell painting.

But all that changed when Henry had the accident that could have taken his life.

As Henry clocked in on that fateful Thursday, he went about his work as if it was any other day. Inspection was going fine until the conveyor belt seized up and production came to a halt. Henry went into the motor room and saw that a rat had gotten wedged into one of the gears. Blood and fur were everywhere, and the only way to get it going again, was by sheer muscle. He grabbed an iron bar, and attempted to lever the mechanism backward, so that he could clear the obstruction.

The bar slipped, and Henry stumbled, falling into the machinery. With his hand crushed into the gears, he screamed out for help. Although his co-workers arrived quickly, it was too late for Henry, and three of his fingers had been severed.

Henry was rushed to Dr. David Orson, the family physician, for treatment. Although he was able to stitch up the wounds, there was no possibility of saving Henry’s fingers. He would never play guitar again.