It was so difficult in those days to be able to even have a relationship, let alone try to get married and stay in Cobu. It was a place that thought anyone was free game or was allowed to be harassed or openly ridiculed, "because that's what Stewart always did to everyone" at the meetings: "monkey see, monkey do" behavior.
We were not in COBU when we got married. I had left and got an apartment across the Hudson River, in Union City, NJ in Feb. 1984. I wrote a letter to Stewart saying that it was sad that he discouraged brothers and sisters from having relationships and that whatever he said was accepted by the fellowship. I quoted a passage in Song of Solomon where they tried to make a new bride look beautiful to her husband, even if she wasn't well endowed.
A bunch of sisters brought Stewart's "response" to my letter to him to me at my apartment. He wrote something like that, "he liked my letter and to keep writing to him". I don't know why he couldn't have replied to me himself or even called me himself, but it wasn't "Stewart Traill's way" to actually participate in or even have anything to do with we who supported his every financial need, while our own financial needs went untended. In an effort to get the 15 or so sisters out of my tiny second floor apartment, I suggested that we all "go witnessing", which they were more than happy to do as they probably figured it would be something positive to report back about.
This may get very long, but I'll try to be concise and share what dating Dave was like in 1981, because Cobu was not always the same from one time period to another, so I wanted to express what it was that we experienced when as adults we pursued our interest in being a couple. I think that our testimony has a lot to do with where we are today, and this is one reason that I think it is worthy of sharing.
At one time any brothers and sisters who tried to have a relationship were made to "brake up." What that evolved into by 1981, when I was 23 years old and Dave was 25, was that you could not even give a sister the idea that you were interested in her if you were not serious about continuing the relationship to marriage. The idea of having a relationships at all was described "as a fantasy" was compared to being as ridiculous as dating "Mikey Mouse" would be, was not something that was "approved of" especially not by Stewart Traill, and therefore not by anyone else.
I needed to see a Chiropractor twice a week for a period of 5 months. Dave was in college and the only brother available to escort me to the doctor in the middle of the day when the doctor was in. Dave is one of the easiest brothers to talk to and many brothers and sisters would discuss things with him freely, as he was always pleasant to talk to. He graduated with honors from college and we actually went to dinner at one of his professor's homes while we were dating.
Back to what "dating in COBU" was like back then. Dave and I got along well when we would go to and from my doctor visits. Dave was taking a photography course and took a bunch of photos of me and other things in the city for his class assignments. Because brothers could not let on "who they liked" Dave kept his own counsel about his interest in me. I later found out that he would pray for 90 minutes a day for over 6 months before I had any idea that he was interested in me. To me, Dave was an albino black brother and I thought he would only be interested in the black sisters, although I always enjoyed his company.
At one point Chris B needed a babysitter for his three children, after his wife left him, when he needed to work. I went to his house in New Jersey and watched them for I think a week or less. I couldn't believe how poorly he took care of them. They thought bathing was a "Saturday night only" obligation. I stood up to Chris about his care of his children and suddenly he thought I might be a "good mother" for his kids.
Suddenly, he was interested in marrying me and we didn't even know each other! I spent that week alone taking care of his children. Then out of no where he suddenly took it upon himself to announce to the older brothers that he was interested in marrying me!
Dave, who got wind of it suddenly became stressed by this news and he sent a letter off to Stewart Traill. At this period in time, Stewart ignored most of the letters he received, but Dave wrote a letter stating that he didn't want his "permission" but just wanted his opinion on how he thought it would affect me having another brother saying he was interested in marrying me. Stewart, instead of calling Dave personally, decided to send his reply on a written file card through the sisters in the office and his reply was made the day that he got Dave's letter.
His message was something like, "Marriage has nothing to do with Christian life, it affects it, but is not part of it."
The sisters were buzzing about this juicy message and couldn't wait to find Dave to "read it" to him. Dave, with the thought of losing me to Chris B decided he better get a move on and let me know of his intentions.
At the same time, out of nowhere, I suddenly got voted by the entire church to go to Haiti! Very peculiar since I had stood up and volunteered during the most recent Big Meeting and was rejected, but suddenly when two brothers are showing an interest in me I get an invite to be shipped out of the country!?
When Dave decided to tell me how he felt, I also got comments from sisters like, "Last week Chris B, this week Dave S, who's next Mike J?" as if I was some kind of temptress! When what actually happened was that I was very good at taking care of children since I was an oldest daughter in a family of 13 children and Dave had been interested in me because we had lively conversations while he escorted me twice a week to the doctors office.
There was an outdoor public pool on the west side of NY and Dave invited me to go swimming. I arrived at my apartment in 515 to get my suit and towel only to find about 30 older sisters seated all over my apartment waiting to confront me about the latest news of my relationship with Dave Simmons. Kathy T was invited to go swimming with us and Doug Davis and she walked up to my door with her shorts and swim suit and towel and said, "Are you ready to go?"
I looked at all the sisters, grabbed my stuff and said, "It just wouldn't be right to keep everyone waiting" and I took off to go swimming with Doug, Kathy and Dave.
Basically I got dealt with over our relationship every single day that we were together. We held hands openly. We kept ourselves from sin until the day we were married. We prayed together for 30 minutes every single day while walking in the midst of those who were actively trying to break us up.
Dave bought me an engagement ring that I wore proudly. Jim G saw me wearing it and made a comment to me in the middle of a meeting. I held up my hand and said, Yes, Dave gave me his ring.
Once Dave and I were sitting and talking out on the curb in front of 515 and there was a fire hydrant had water coming out of it and passing underneath us by the curb. Tim M walked by and said, "Oh, look, how sweet, a romance by a babbling brook."
I worked in the Wall Street area and a hand full of sisters and I used to get a van downtown, every single day I was on the menu. One day there was a really bad blizzard and I was fed up with Nancy White chewing me out for the millionth time and decided I'd rather walk the last five blocks in the blizzard than listen to one more comment.
Stewart never gave any interest in the statistical charts that were posted at the Big Meetings, until this one meeting when Dave and I happened to be sitting under them and he chose that meeting to give a long discourse on the charts that were above our heads, or was he really just putting pressure on us?!
At that same meeting, Joe C's dad came and Joe asked Dave and I to be in some photos with him and his dad. Normally, Stewart and Gayle would run in and run out of meetings without barely a glance or word to anyone, but at this meeting they both stood only a few cars distance from us and decided to stare at us during our photo session. Being openly scrutinized by the stares of Mr & Mrs Traill, ya know, the ones who made it a point to keep everyone else focused on making all the money to pay for all of their hotel and aircraft expenses, or Gayle's pilot classes that he bragged to all of us that she got wonderful grades in, when we were lucky to "be approved" to purchase a most needed new pair of shoes! Yeah, they stood there next to their van, just glaring us down. I was thankful that I was very practiced by this time in ignoring all the glares and stares toward we who were both over 21 and were audacious enough to do the forbidden behavior of "dating openly" while at the same exact time we were accused of "being in the dark" so completely ridiculous treatment we had to endure!
Such were just some of the experiences of our COBU courtship.
Once, Bob and Pat W, Dave and Joanne R, Joanne F, Nancy and Charles R, and Chuck M and I'm not sure who else, came to Dave's apartment while I was there and proceeded to inform Dave that I wasn't good enough for him and why didn't he find a "better" sister and even made a suggestion to him of Judy B!
They said that he was too mushy and I was too pushy for our relationship to have any longevity.
Charles R said that if we were lucky our relationship would only last a year, if that.
We did end up braking up for a week after that meeting. During that week alone I seemed to get the acceptance from the sisters' fellowship because I was trying to "listen to the advice of the older brothers and sisters."
Yet, on the fourth day of our "break up" ~ Dave came to pick me up at my job in New York City, and he apologized to me for letting the older brothers and sisters convince him to quit his commitment to me and to our relationship.
When we got back together to discuss our feelings about staying separate we decided that it would be dishonest to remain separate when we both wanted to remain a couple.
When Joann F saw that we were back together, she said to us: "I thought that we agreed that you should separate!" Typical "older sister" behavior, thinking that they were the final authority over everyone else and very audacious treatment toward those who they usually didn't give the time of day to!
~ Dave replied to her, "I never made any such agreement. I've considered what you've said and I've declined YOUR COUNSEL!"