When she was a teenager living on a farm in Linn County, Iowa, Ruth Harrison was head-over-heels in love with her "Prince Charming". She met him in 1936 at the Bertram Methodist Church. His name was Warren "Jorgy" Jorgenson, tall and handsome; just six months older than she.
From the time Jorgy and Ruthie were sixteen, their dream was to get married and one day live in California. This was a place they knew well, as both their Grandmothers lived in this land of plenty with 'sunshine and orange groves'.
But first, Warren wanted to do something unusual and exciting. He decided to enlist in the Marine Corps; he thought this would accomplish his goal. It was a sad December day in 1939, when he and 'Ruthie' said "Good-bye" at the Cedar Rapids train station. 'Jorgy' was off to San Diego and Boot Camp; he was about to become a Marine!
They expected he would be coming home "on-leave" sometime in the Spring. But the Marine Corps had other plans and Warren was sent to Shanghai in April 1940. Hundreds of love letters were written during their next two years of separation. Warren showered Ruth with gifts from the Orient and they made countless plans for their future life together.
Ruth packed up and moved to
Southern California in March 1941.
She had decided to establish a home and
get the dream under way.
But December 7th came and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Ruth was visiting her Grandmother in Long Beach and she
heard the news as she left church that Sunday Morning.
That was the day that would forever change her life.
In the early days of the War, civilians had no communication with the military. Not knowing what happened to Jorgy seemed too much to ask. She knew his outfit (The Fourth Marines) was on Corregidor and still there when the troops were surrendered in May 1942. A Government message at that time told her that he was 'Missing in Action and Presumed Dead'. There were no other messages and finally, Ruth came to believe what she'd been told.
Actually, Warren had been wounded during the final battle on Corregidor and was hospitalized in the Malinta Tunnel for surgery. This was unknown to the Japanese, so his name was not on their POW list and our government assumed that he had not survived. His fate however, would be to join his outfit when released from the hospital and endure thirty-nine months as a POW in Japan.
The "dream" had been destroyed and Ruth found that accepting her loss was very difficult. Time does heal and Ruth was determined to get on with her life; and so she did! The next year, at the Glendale Methodist Church she met another great guy... His name was Harry Jones! They were married the following year, established a home and a built a good life together, first in Glendale and then LaCanada, followed by Pebble Beach. They had a son, a daughter and a happy marriage that lasted for forty-eight delightful years.
Ruth knew that Warren came home after the war, returning to civilian life, a healthy man. She heard that he married, had a family and probably made his home in Iowa. They had no contact with each other over the years and neither of them knew where the other one resided. In 1970, a friend sent Ruth an Iowa newspaper clipping that a 'Warren Jorgenson' had been killed in an auto accident. The age and location indicated that it was the same man.
In the years that followed, Ruth always cherished the memory of her teenage days in Iowa and a guy she called, "Jorgy".
In 1990 Harry died in his sleep and widowhood was a tough adjustment for Ruth. Active in the DAR, she had been elected Regent for the State of California and except for those duties, life would have been ever so much more difficult. DAR responsibilities ended in April, 1994 and then she needed a new challenge. With the encouragement of her family, she set about the task of writing her Memoirs. The children and grandchildren seemed to think that she had a lot of things to write about.... Ruth soon found that to finish the chapter on her 'First-love' was impossible. No facts about Warren's life since his last letter in 1941, caused many blank pages and a very frustrated writer.
Thinking him deceased since 1970, Ruth went looking for someone, like a son or grandson who could fill in the missing years.
What she found, to her utter amazement, was her "Prince Charming"!! Warren Jorgenson was not only alive; he was retired & living alone in Marion, Iowa. He had a daughter, four sons, four step-children and most of his life had been spent in Omaha after graduating from Drake University.
Letter writing began again for Ruth & Jorgy. But now there were daily phone calls and before long they both believed that they were in love 'again'. On May 6, 1995, Warren returned to Ruth as he had promised so long ago. And it came as no surprise to discover that their love had been put on hold for fifty-three years.
Ruth went back to Iowa to spend the summer and helped Warren with the move to California. While she was there, memories came pouring back as they visited old familiar haunts: the little Methodist Church in Bertram where they met when they were so very young; the Community Hall where they performed in comedies and sang in musicals; Box Socials where Warren would spend his last dime to get Ruth's box lunch; McKinley High in Cedar Rapids from which they both graduated; the "old" State Movie Theater with hand-holding memories and the famous Jorgenson Family card game of "Flinch". All helped close the gap of many, many years.
YES, MIRACLES REALLY DO HAPPEN
THEY HAPPEN TO REAL PEOPLE.
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