You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
A great love story, of love at first sight in 1941
Lessie and Richard Wauson
after he joined the Coast Guard
I have been thinking about Eddie’s brother, Richard, a lot lately. He has been gone for more than 20 years. I miss him these days. I bet he and Eddie are having a good time in heaven. It got me to looking for a story I wrote about his and Lessie’s courtship. Lessie has always been one of my favorite sisters-in-law. She was my best friend for many years before Eddie and I got married and afterward. Here is the story again. It is a great love story, of love at first sight.
It was Dec. 3, 1941, on a cold Wednesday night in Floresville at the Full Gospel Church. The Sawyer family went to church that night as always. Their youngest daughter, Lessie, was with them. They were very devout Christians.
Twenty-year-old Richard Wauson was a visitor that night. He lived in San Antonio and was visiting at the request of the preacher, Rev. Cantrell, who had invited Richard, telling him he wanted him to meet a nice young woman in the church. He asked Richard to sing in the choir that night.
The girl didn’t show up, but Richard couldn’t get his eyes off another girl coming in the door, as she swung her long blond hair over her shoulders and sat down with her parents, pulling her skirt demurely over her knees. Lessie Sawyer, age 16, kept glancing at the good-looking tall stranger in the choir, who kept staring at her.
After the service, as usual, the Sawyers invited the preacher and his wife home for coffee and dessert. Since Richard was a guest of the preacher, he was invited too.
Richard and Lessie met that night after church and talked late into the night. Before Richard left to go back to San Antonio, he asked Lessie if he could come to Floresville to court her beginning the next Sunday. She eagerly said yes and her parents agreed.
That Sunday was Dec. 7, and Pearl Harbor was attacked. Richard was at Lessie’s house that Sunday night after church and everyone was discussing the possibility of war.
Richard turned to Lessie and said, “You know what this means, don’t you? I am going to enlist.”
Lessie nodded her head, holding back the tears. It had only been four days and she was already in love with him. With his enlistment looming, Richard went to Floresville every night in December to see Lessie. He was working at Kelly Field during the day. After work he drove to Floresville and then back late at night.
Their courtship was intense and every night the date consisted of just talking as they sat in the living room and listened to the radio. If the weather was warm enough, they went for short walks, but her parents, who liked Richard, were always nearby.
Lessie had her 17th birthday on the 14th of December. Richard asked her to go to Pleasanton to meet his family at Christmas.
The Wauson family lived in a small house with five boys and one girl. Eddie, 16, was Lessie’s favorite of the brothers.
Lessie said, “Eddie was so friendly, but the whole family was friendly and fun and welcomed me, and I really liked them.”
Christmas came and in January, Richard was still coming to Floresville every night to see Lessie. He still talked about joining the Coast Guard.
One night he said, “We should get married so we can be together before I have to leave for the Coast Guard.”
On Feb. 22, 1942, they were married in the Full Gospel Church in Floresville. They lived in a small apartment on St. Mary’s Street in San Antonio, across from The Pig Stand. On paydays they walked across the street and treated themselves to a hamburger and a milk shake. Their honeymoon lasted seven months.
In September, Richard left to go in the Coast Guard, and was stationed in New Orleans. Lessie went home to stay with her parents in Floresville.
One day a telegram came to Lessie from Richard telling her to come. Her father wouldn’t let her go, afraid for a 17-year-old girl to travel alone.
Her mother intervened, saying, “Listen here, Barney Sawyer, if she is old enough to be married, she is old enough to travel alone!”
She took the train to New Orleans, and Richard, along with many other sailors meeting their wives or girlfriends, met Lessie. At first she could not see him, because in that sea of sailors, they all looked alike. But finally he spotted her.
He was in the Coast Guard for three years and they lived on the naval base in New Orleans. During that time their son, Richard Jr., was born. Their romance lasted 47 years. They had four children. Richard passed away in 1990. Lessie is 89 and lives in San Antonio with her husband Arlen, whom she married in 1995. She is still a beautiful woman.
Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. Email her at email@example.com.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Austin’s oldest museum offers daily tours (June 22, 2016)
Dine out with The ROCK (June 22, 2016)
Esparza reunion planned for July 9 (June 22, 2016)
Free guided hikes at Enchanted Rock (June 22, 2016)
Getting your hands dirty — in the garden with Iris Seale (June 22, 2016)
Men: Pay attention to your health (June 22, 2016)
Movies in the Park (June 22, 2016)
New Pioneer Playroom offers hands-on learning (June 22, 2016)
Old newspaper makes memories ‘Local and Personal’ (June 22, 2016)
Poth church to celebrate 90 years (June 22, 2016)
See Legacy of Leadership exhibit in Washington (June 22, 2016)
SS museum plans meeting (June 22, 2016)
Tips for a safe trip to the beach (June 22, 2016)
Wall pocket (June 22, 2016)
Area seniors invited to Bingo Tuesdays (June 15, 2016)
Art Walk America contest deadline is June 23 (June 15, 2016)
Attend picnic at Dewees-Remschel House June 15 (June 15, 2016)
DRT receives honors at state convention (June 15, 2016)
Hear patriotic tunes in Pleasanton (June 15, 2016)
It’s gone! The Spot is gone! (June 15, 2016)
Join WASP for summer season (June 15, 2016)
Jubilee offers fun for the whole family (June 15, 2016)
Martinez Social Club keeps you dancing (June 15, 2016)
Meet 2016 Stockdale Watermelon Jubilee, rodeo court candidates (June 15, 2016)
Moms walking group invites members (June 15, 2016)
Napoli Glass (June 15, 2016)
Oak Hills Church plans yard sale (June 15, 2016)
Ramirezes celebrate golden anniversary (June 15, 2016)
See free movies at Arcadia (June 15, 2016)
Sutherland Springs seeks volunteers (June 15, 2016)
Vendors needed for Freedom Fest (June 15, 2016)
Witness Summer Solstice performance (June 15, 2016)
Add amphibians to your landscaping (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy free summer movies at Rolling Oaks Mall (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy Pilgrim Opry (June 8, 2016)
Gene Watson in Kerrville (June 8, 2016)
Hear ‘Bach to Luckenbach’ (June 8, 2016)
Hummel plate (June 8, 2016)
June dances in Geronimo (June 8, 2016)
Meet for Play Dates in the library (June 8, 2016)
OLPH names 2016 Mother of the Year, May Queen (June 8, 2016)
Prepare to enter cool creation in Ice Cream Freeze-off (June 8, 2016)
Remember Flag Day June 14 (June 8, 2016)
Running group plans June 11 run (June 8, 2016)
St. Ann Teen ACTS plan 5K Color Run (June 8, 2016)
Take Dad out to FatherFest June 19 (June 8, 2016)
The old Wagenfuehr house in Bleu Casa Village (June 8, 2016)
Tracking an icon in the ‘horned lizard capital of Texas’ (June 8, 2016)
Building communities (June 1, 2016)
Cowboy penknife (June 1, 2016)
Garcia receives Linda West Scholarship (June 1, 2016)
Garner State Park celebrates 75 years (June 1, 2016)
Libraries prepare to launch ‘Reading Is So Delicious!’ summer program (June 1, 2016)
Lutheran Church windows relocated for a little TLC (June 1, 2016)
St. Helena Men’s Club plans picnic (June 1, 2016)
Stockdale’s early beginnings (June 1, 2016)
The progression of the classic ‘koozie’ (June 1, 2016)