The best laid plans

Mr. & Mrs. Harvey Denter – June 7, 1942

My parents were married on June 7, 1942.  They’d be celebrating 70 years together today, so in their memory, here’s a little of their story.

A Wisconsin farm boy, Harvey Denter left home during the Depression years and went wherever he could find work. Finally he made his way to Sabula, Iowa. He worked at the Army Depot Proving Grounds in Savannah, Illinois, loading ammunition and making bombs for the Army.  He earned $7.72 per day. “Big money,” he said.

While working there, he became friends with Ed Bees, a local boy. In the summer of 1941, Ed was getting married to Joyce Jensen. He asked Harvey to pick up the flowers for the wedding.

“I don’t know where the flower shop is,” Harvey said.

“Take Joyce’s sister, Ruby. She’ll show you,” Ed responded.

That’s how my folks met. Ruby lived with her mother and taught in one of the country schools.

Almost a year later, my mother related, “We were on a date and Harvey tossed a box in my lap. I knew it was a ring. I got the picture.”

At the time they married, Harvey was 30 and Ruby was 26. “We talked about whether Harvey would get called up for service but we figured at 30, he was too old,” she said.

For her wedding, Ruby wore the dress her sister had worn the year before. The wedding and reception were at the house where Ruby lived, on the banks of the Mississippi River. During the reception, Harvey gave dimes to the neighborhood kids.

They took their honeymoon trip to Wisconsin where they stayed a few days with Harvey’s family on the farm where he grew up. She learned about growing tobacco. They also spent a few days in a one-room cabin at the Wisconsin Dells. Harvey’s relatives welcomed Ruby into the family with humor. Her mother-in-law and sister-in-law short-sheeted their bed and slipped a little statue of Abraham Lincoln between the sheets.

When they returned from their honeymoon trip, Harvey was called up for service. “I was going to get a raise to $7.76 at the Depot,’ he said, “but the Army got me first.”


  1. Laurel Williams says:

    Loved the story about The Wedding. The Denters were great friends of ours.

    • Thanks. I was just looking at the pictures from the 40th wedding anniversary and there is one of Jack reading the poem he wrote about their lives. That was special and even more so when he updated it for their 50th. Hope all is well with you, Laurel!

  2. Simply charming. Thanks for sharing, Carol.

  3. What a charming story….loved it!

  4. Karina Suazo says:

    Oh Carol, what a lovely story, I remember having a drink with Harvey and dad attheir house (of course after I turned 18 in Iowa) and your mom’s sweet smile. thanks for sharing!

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      I expect Dad would have bent the rules for you to have a drink even before you were 18, Karina 😉 He always said I could hear a beer bottle opening if he was in the house and I was in the Back 40!

  5. Thanks for sharing this delightful bit of family history. I love history! You should write a story about them.

  6. Sue Denter says:

    Hi Carol, I didn’t know about the flowers! Thanks for writing this. Mom’s birthday was only two days previous.

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      Hi, Sue. One of those little tidbits I picked up along the way. Remembering which was Mom’s birthday and which was their anniversary always challenged me. Finally, I remembered it this way: She had to be born before she could be married! Isn’t that silly?

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