Patty thinks I should write about my thoughts and feelings over the years, so here goes. As I remember, about August 1953 I was at summer camp with my National Guard unit at Fort Stewart, GA. I was a Warrant Officer serving in a personnel position in Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 214th AAA Group. It was probably Tuesday of the second week of camp, and I opened a letter from Louise Callaway, whom I had known since fifth grade and considered as my girl friend for years. As I read the letter, I was shocked by its coldness. "Dear William", it began - no "est" on the "Dear", and ended with "Sincerely, Louise" - no "Love, Louise" as was usual. In the middle, she indicated her unhappiness that I had been stringing her along for years without a proposal. She thought we should stop seeing each other. This was the low point of my life, I am convinced.
That night I called her to try to make up with her and I succeeded. The following Friday she was going to Miami Beach with her parents. Her father was school superintendent and was going to the National Education Association (NEA) convention. She said that they would be glad to take me along if I could meet them somewhere, perhaps in Jesup, south of Fort Stewart. I arranged to leave camp two days early and to have Neal Merritt drive my car back from Jesup and drive it to Washington on Sunday. As it worked out, I met the Callaways at the Wayne County Courthouse in Jesup with no trouble and continued with them to Miami Beach and had a wonderful time.
As I remember, I proposed in the front porch swing at her home soon after we returned from Miami Beach. At any rate, we had an "understanding" that had been missing before. There was much to be done and we could not set a date at that time. Louise was working for the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta and invited me to company parties over the years. She lived in a boarding house at 50 Lombardy Way and had many friends, both at work and at the house.
Louise had been given a large diamond by her great-aunt Annie Spratlin that she wanted set into an engagement ring. We had that done at Maier & Berkley in Atlanta where we also bought both our wedding rings. She wanted to be married in a blue suit so I helped her to buy that in Atlanta. By the following summer, Louise had left her job and moved back to her parents' home near Rayle. We were distressed when she developed phlebitis in her left leg. This was overcome and we arranged to marry on
Saturday, November 20, 1954, at Rock United Methodist Church, Rayle, Georgia. Her uncle Edgar Allen "Billy" Callaway was to perform the service; her close friend, Lavonia Sparks Ricketson, was to be her maid of honor; and my brother, James Reeves "Jimsie" Johnson, was to be my best man. The wedding dinner was to be at the Woman's Club in Washington, as was the wedding reception. I rented an apartment at 509 W. Liberty St. in Washington. All these plans worked out perfectly. Louise had a four-door Plymouth that was roomier than my two-door Chevrolet, so we used her car on the honeymoon to Gray, Thomasville, Waycross, and Savannah.