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Abandoned, Part I

MYSTERIOUS WEDDING DRESS FOUND IN COUNTY

A wedding dress was recently brought in to the White County Historical Society L. Haas Museum.
It was found in the attic of an empty house under-going repairs in White County.
The gown was in an unopened package mailed July, 18, 1972, addressed to the name Palmer, in Oak Park, Ill. It was sent by Romance Bridals, Inc. of New York City.
Anyone with any information concerning the wedding gown, or why it might have been stashed away in the attic for 32 years, hundreds of miles from its original destination, is asked to call Loretta Vangampler at 384-3871. The gown will be returned to the rightful owner or accepted as a donation to the museum.


Chapter One- The Proposal
February 14, 1972


In tradition of the holiday at hand Beau had decided to take Linda out to dinner tonight and, as romanticism dictates, had also decided to propose during dessert. He’d worked everything out with the cook at Le Rouge Mademoiselle, the best restaurant in town and the only one to have actual waiters. After eating he would order two sundaes and on top of hers, instead of a cherry there would be a ring. Nervous as he felt, he was pretty confident she would say yes. Now all he had to do was get them to the restaurant.

“Beau, are you ever going to tell me where we’re going?” Linda’s voice floated through the bathroom door where she was just finishing her make-up. “Because, really. You’re being mildly childish with all this secrecy stuff.” Her tone was teasing and he was getting ready to play her game when the phone rang. Picking up the phone he was surprised to hear Maggie Ann, the cook at Le Rouge Mademoiselle, speaking to him.

“Hey Beau, just wanted to phone and make sure, are you going to make it to your reservation tonight?” She sounded excited, maybe more so than him, but the blonde cook was easily entertained.

“You know I will. I worked forever to set all this up. Is everything set up on your end, the waiter know who gets which ice cream?” That was what really worried him. That when the dessert came he’d be the one getting the ring, instead of the way it was supposed to be.

“Everything’s ready for when you get here, so hurry up lover boy.” Her bubbly laughter was cut off by his hanging up the phone.

“Who was that?” Linda had finally come out of the bathroom and was standing in front of him. Her frizzy brown hair had been done so that, though still wild, it was at least tamed for the moment. The knee length, powder blue dress accentuated her curvy, tanned figure and ballet flats brought attention to her shapely legs. She had a cute face, round cheeks and full lips set below almond shaped hazel eyes.

“Hmm? Oh, no one important.” He couldn’t lie to save his life and he knew that, so he turned quickly before she could read the fib in his face. “You ready now?”

“Yeah.” The drive to the restaurant was spent in companionable silence, each lost in their thoughts.

Linda couldn’t help but wonder why Beau was acting so strangely. She could tell he lied to her earlier and she wanted to know who he was speaking to on the phone. It turned out she didn’t have long to wait.

“Here we are, this is where we’re spending the evening.” The restaurant was romantically lit by hundreds of red candles and set a comfortable atmosphere. Beau took her hand and led her to a booth in a secluded corner of the room.

A young, blonde haired man brought them 2 menus and took their drink orders.

“This place is amazing, Beau. I can’t believe you can be this romantic.” She was star-struck really. This is the first time he’d ever done anything like this on Valentine’s Day. His response was cut short by the appearance of their waiter carry two glasses, filled with red wine. As they hadn’t chosen their dishes they asked for a few more minutes.

The waiter came back and asked them if they were ready and pulled out his little notepad and pen.

“What’re you getting?” Linda couldn’t read a thing on the menu, it was all in French. She was hoping maybe she could get an idea from him.

“I’m going to get the roasted duck and veggies. How about you?” He was looking at her expectantly, like she was supposed to know what was on the menu. She decided to go the safe, less embarrassing, way.

“I’ll have the same.” She’d never had duck before, so why not. Turning back to Beau she asked him about who he was talking to on the phone, and actually got an answer.

“I was confirming our reservations for tonight. It was a surprise so I couldn’t tell you.” Dinner passed without a hitch, making Beau breathe a sigh of relief, hoping that dessert went the same way. After ordering the ice cream he shifted his position so he could get out of the booth easier.

“Here is your dessert and your check; I hope your evening was pleasant.” The waiter left again and Linda finally got a look at the sundae and the ring sitting on top. Her eyes got as huge as saucers and she looked at Beau, who had moved from sitting in his seat to kneeling on the ground before her.

“Linda Joan Michaels, would you marry me?” She was completely thrown off. Of course she loved him, they had been dating for nearly a year and a half now, but she’d never thought of marrying him before. She was only 19, not really ready to settle down yet. Her next thought was am I ever going to get another offer like this? Beau was 21, had a steady job as a mechanic, and loved her. What more could she want in a spouse?

Oh, but she wanted to travel, to see the rest of the world outside of White County, Illinois. If she married now she probably wouldn’t get to do any of those things. Again though, she’d probably never get a better offer. Her Momma always told her that if you found a decent man willing to marry you, you had better not turn him down. Her Momma also didn’t believe in marrying for love though, she was still so set in her old ways. And she would break Beau’s heart if she told him no, she could see that in his eyes. He utterly adored her.

“Yeah.” Her voice was trembling and she was trying to hold back tears. Because even though she loved him and he was a decent match for a happy life, she was so unsure. Beau thought her tears were happy, but really she was asking herself one question. Was she really ready to settle down and possibly never see the rest of the world? She couldn’t answer honestly.





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