August 26, 1995
It's hard to believe it's been more than 50 years since a young wave officer approached a young navy pilot at Cecil Field outside of Jacksonville, Florida and said, "I hear you are from North Carolina," beginning a relationship that's still going strong today, a relationship that we have gathered to honor tonight on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the marriage of Edie and Jig Bridgers.
Their courtship lasted only a few months, but during that time they were frequently together, meeting for 3 meals a day in the officers' mess at Cecil Field and going to the movies at night, my mother invariably the one who had to come up with the two nickels for admission. The most popular song of the day was "June is Busting Out All Over" from the musical Carousel -- don't worry, I'm not going to sing it!
When they decided to marry, they didn't know the pacific war would end when it did, and my father had every reason to expect he would be back out there again. Fortunately, that didn't come to be. Two weeks after V-J Day, they were married at the base chapel -- that was August 27, 1945. My mother had to get written permission from the C.O. to wear her wedding dress.
They honeymooned in Georgia, first at Lake Rayburn and later at Sea Island, before returning to set up house in Jacksonville, where the first of six children was born -- John David, Jr., always known as Jock, for reasons I can't remember. From Jacksonville, they moved back to North Carolina -- Durham -- where my father started medical school at Duke University in 1946. I was born there in 1948. From Durham, the growing family went to Boston as my father started his internship at the Naval hospital there, and along came Carl in 1950.
From Boston, it was back to Florida -- this time to Pensacola, and, after a few months, over to Corpus Christi, Texas where Raymond was born in 1952. From there, it was north to the Naval Air Station in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The quest for some female offspring was finally successful with the birth of Barbara at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital in 1954. That same year, my father left the navy to begin his residency at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the family moved to a tiny duplex in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.
With five children born in the first 9 years of the marriage, my mother had her hands full. How did she keep her sanity? In 1956, we all moved to the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, where we remained until 1962, and the birth of Holly (real name Holland) in 1960 completed the family circle. In 1962, we moved back to North Carolina, High Point to be exact where all of the kids finished the process of growing into adulthood, went off to school and later spread to the reaches of the U.S.
In the 1980's, my father retired from his pediatric practice and worked for a couple of years for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. As a result, he was offered the position of medical director at Burdette-Tomlin Hospital in Cape May, New Jersey, and my parents lived in southern Jersey for six years before he finally retired for good, one year ago, and moved up to Woodbridge. Thus, over 50 years, my parents have migrated from Florida to Connecticut -- the opposite of what usually happens.
With age, the stresses of child rearing and economic hardship have been supplanted by the stresses of medical problems. It seems like it has never been a picnic, but throughout it all these two admirable and wonderful people have stuck it out together, supporting each other, supporting their children and now also their grandchildren, recently increased in number to eight with the birth of Elizabeth Fintry Burton.
We can never repay them for all they have done for us, but we can thank them, and that is what we have gathered to do tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to stand and join me in a toast to Edie and Jig Bridgers and their first 50 years of marriage.
In 1995, Jig & Edie moved from Cape May, New Jersey to Woodbridge, Connecticut. That August their children gathered together with extended family and friends to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Sam, residing in Woodbridge, served as host at a dinner in their honor and delivered these opening remarks.
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