Over the Hill

Would Pop, who didn’t like women drivers, vote for one for president?

Pop didn’t wear a wedding ring. He never owned one. He also didn’t have much confidence in women drivers. And I don’t know what he’d think about our current presidential election.

Men’s wedding rings didn’t become popular until around World War II. That was too late for Pop to get one. He and Mother had already been married 13 years. But even if men’s wedding rings had been popular back then, he wouldn’t have worn one. He’d think they were unmanly.

Pop also never rode with a woman driver until he was much, much older. He was also reluctant to teach Mother to drive. He said they couldn’t afford to buy any cars except Model T Fords, which he said were too difficult for her to operate. So Mother’s friend, Florence, taught her how to drive.

But then, about 1938, Pop surprisingly borrowed some money on his life insurance and bought a used 1934 Chevrolet. I don’t know what caused Pop to relent, but anyhow, Mother did get a driver’s license. That shows how much we Americans have changed in my lifetime. Today, California teenagers start learning to drive at 15 1/2 .

As for wedding rings, I’m wearing one. An estimated 80 percent of American weddings are now double-ring ceremonies. Mine is a plain white gold band. Mamie wears one just like it. We put them on each other’s ring fingers during our wedding at a chapel at Camp Roberts.

That was 63 years ago this coming Monday. I doubt we could take our rings off now even if we wanted to. We both have deformed arthritic fingers. And, of course, after 63 years, neither of us would want to take them off. I’m deeply pleased we’re still partners.

Mother left Pop in 1958. They were two strong-willed people who saw the world differently. She was a skilled stenographer who could speak German. She was an independent 1920s-era woman.

But there was a deeper reason she left Pop. Mother was a Catholic. She divorced her first husband before she married Pop. She continued to go to Mass but couldn’t participate in any sacraments. As the years passed, she became more worried that she would be condemned to eternal punishment if she stayed with Pop.

And as time went by, Pop worried less about his role as a man. He rode a few times with women drivers. He became his eldest sister’s caregiver for several years as she coped with Alzheimer’s disease.

Sadly, Pop and Mother never reunited, and now they’re gone.

But we are still here to see how many voters fear having a woman as president, and how many are willing to stand when the band plays “Hail to the Chief” if the chief is a woman.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.