Sometimes looks are deceiving, but not in this case. Gary was not at all intelligent, informed, or ambitious. What you see is a touch better than what was actually there. The family believed Carol married him because of teenaged ignorance and hormones.
The short essay on Carol's life is presented here because the problems she encountered in her marriage and the world as it was in the 50s were common to women attempting to function in a world where they were being marginalized legally and professionally. Newspapers still presented Employment Advertising in the categories of MEN and WOMEN.
The previous generation of women, the Generation of WWII, had enjoyed opportunities because the mobilization of men into the military had created the need to fill jobs in factories and in white collar jobs. When veterans began coming home these closed down. Men had a strong sense of entitlement based solely on gender. Today, this is fading, then it was reinforced by public policy.
If Carol had finished high school in the sixties her life would have been very different. If she had not been determine to get out on her own, her life would have been different. But each of us is born into a time and conditions and these ddictate our outcome to a significant degree.
Carol died at February 12, 1974, at age 36 of a heart attack, a problem which Father believed, and told us, two of his aunts had died of the same problem, which was inherited through his side of the family. Father was not a specialist in cardiology but believed this to be the case. Two of his father's sisters ha died of heart attacks, one at age 12, the other at age 24. Anne and then Charles died of what appeared to be similar causes. Stephen had triple bypass surgery at age 44. Melinda has suffered two heart attacks before the age of 59, the age at which both Anne and Charles were struck down.
Carol was a beautiful and intelligent woman, as she had been a pretty little girl. While not interested in academics she was very practical and capable of thinking through problems and procedures. Born later, or if she had waited to marry and attended college she would have found a far more appropriate husband,
At the time of her death she was estranged from her husband, Gary, and living apart from him. Gary was raised by a single mother. His father appears to have died in 1944 but had no record in the military. Gary was also a product of the 50s and filled with a sense of male entitlement.
The couple had adopted a little boy, Eric, when he was about 18 months old. When Carol died he was around 6 or 7. He was raised solely by his father and the woman he married, with whom he was having a sexual relationship at the time of Carol's death. His only concerns were having his own needs met. Nothing else mattered.
Gary reflected the sense of entitlement common to men of his generation. He expected Carol to do all the housework, cook the meals, and defer to him in all things. This made for a rocky marriage, as Carol was raised by a feminist father, who believed women were more, not less capable than men. Eric later reconnected with his birth mother and because of the short time Carol was in his life has only limited memories of her.
It had never been a happy marriage, that was clear to the entire family.
At the time Carol left Gary I was grown and myself married. She and I talked about what had happened and this, with what I remember, painted a clear picture of a mis-match from the beginning. Gary and Carol shared no values, goals or even any semblence of a similar cultural background. Gary resented Carol, who earned much for more than did he. Only her insistence he attend college forced him through two years of higher education, which were the foundation for the very moderate success he enjoyed working for the phone company, where he was happy remaining his entire life.
Carol did not attend college but did go to secretarial school and her inherent intelligence and ambition resulted in steady promotions. By the time she was 26 she was Executive Assistant for the Western Head of Pan Am, and always exhibited a facility for organizing and optimizing business operations.
Drinking beer with friends on the weekend and watching sports along with other kill-time activities, and being waited on by his wife, was the whole of Gary's ambition, and he did achieve this.
After Carol's death he discovered Carol had begun transferring her significant savings into the control of our father and, to pay back funds advanced to her to pay for her separation and divorce, taken out an insurance policy to ensure Dad was repaid. Gary was outraged and used contact with their grandson, Eric, to attempt to force Dad to sign the funds over to him. Eventually, this money was placed in trust for Eric, a compromise Gary in no way found satisfactory. He then forced Mother and Father to 'buy him out' of an interest in the cabin for which they had named Carol a trustee.
I later found out that upon discovering Carol had died he and his girl friend took possession of her apartment and stripped it of anything of value, including family heirlooms to which he had not a semblance of a claim. Mom and Dad found out about this when they arrived a few hours later, stunned.
Mom and Dad paid for the funeral, the dress Carol was buried in. This, Gary told them, was not his problem. Eventually, Gary married the girl friend, who was many years younger than himself.