Excerpted from the biography of Henry A. Wallace, American Dreamer by John C. Culver and John Hyde ©2000:
“Henry Wallace was on her trail every minute,” said one of Ilo’s friends. “He used to take Ilo driving in a dilapidated old car. Money never meant a thing to Henry, and his eccentricity didn’t matter to Ilo.” His general obliviousness to customary courtship practices had an endearing quality of its own. On one of their dates Henry brought along his copy of Farmers of Forty Centuries so he and Ilo could discuss Chinese agricultural practices.
At times Henry’s peculiarity was a bit much for Ilo’s friends. They gossiped that he was existing on a diet of nothing but soybeans and cabbages, and grumbled about his unruly appearance. “Ilo, don’t you think you could do something about Henry’s ties,” one of her friends asked. To Ilo, however, what mattered were the “splendid qualities” she saw in him. His quiet strength, his dedication to God and family, his serious demeanor– these were qualities she thought her late father would have admired. She felt with Henry a sense of comfort and security. It seemed, she remarked years later, as if she had always known him.
I’m a long-haired vegetarian communist Hare Krishna devotee living in East Texas. When there’s a bug in the house I grab my butterfly net and a Peterson’s Field Guide, not a can of Raid. I don’t eat peanuts because it’s disturbing to me that a seed would grow underground.
I know I’m weird, and I know that Mona’s friends and family expressed concern while we were courting.
I’m very lucky that, like Henry’s Ilo, my Mona found my general obliviousness to customary courtship practices endearing.