The course was penmanship, and all was going well. Trudy excelled in it like all of her other classes. Midway through the marking period, the instructor became incapable of continuing to teach. The administration suddenly found themselves with a vacancy to fill. To fill the void, they asked one of their recent graduates to take over the class for the rest of the term. So, Claudio Krieghoff took over the class. In the process of teaching Claudio first got to know Trudy Schmidt.
After this first encounter, no fiery explosions of raw love burned between them. That was not the way of things in Argentina. One did not talk very much with a girl unless he intended to marry her. Gentlemen admired the ladies privately from a distance until they reached the acceptable age of marriage. This continued until he selected a young lady that he thought suitable for his wife. At that juncture, the gentleman would begin keeping the company of the young lady. These relationships were carefully formed with great forethought. The participants seriously entertained each other and did not dissolve the relationship unless all hope of it working vanished. One did not mess around. During the courtship, the gentleman did not talk to any other girl, and the lady did not talk to any other boy. When a gentleman began courting a young lady, he held her prestige in his hand. If a gentleman courted a young lady and then parted ways, other gentlemen would think, Why did he do that? What is wrong with her to make him break up with her? and her reputation would be tainted. This format of courting and relationships had definite advantages. Few non-committal dating relationships cursed the halls of schools, breaking the hearts of the participants. When a boy expressed interest in a girl, the girl knew his intentions. She did not have to wonder if he really liked her or if he was just playing around. Claudio followed this tradition and spent much time considering who he wished to marry. He decided that Trudy complemented his life the best.
A degree from the unaccredited Rio Platte College meant little in those days, so Claudio decided to go to Emmanuel Missionary College for two more years, but he wanted to marry Trudy first. The United States and Argentina made an agreement whereby each would recognize the accredited academic degrees of the other. Spending two more years at EMC would give him a bona fide Bachelor s degree and affirm the years spent at Rio Platte College. He visited Trudy in June at her work in the office of the Rio Platte Sanitarium. Confidently, he asked her to marry him. He told her of his plans to attend EMC and get an accredited degree. She laughed and said, "What s stopping you? Why don t you go to America and get your degree." Some girls had liked him in the past, but could not get his attention, so they spread false rumors about him. Trudy heard some of these rumors. She did not believe the rumors, but she wasn t completely sure, either. Undaunted, he left and went to EMC.
Arriving in America, Claudio did not forget the lady he loved back in Argentina. In July, he began writing to her and in September, he decided to renew his offer of marriage to her. By this point, she had also done a lot of serious thinking about the opportunity that she had passed up. When she received the letter renewing the offer, she immediately said yes, and sent him two pocket sized pictures and one desk sized picture of herself. He immersed himself in his studies because he did not know the language very well and was determined to succeed. Many people asked about his social life or what girl he liked. To answer, he pulled the picture from his coat pocket and told them that when he returned to Argentina, he would marry the lady in the picture. Instantly they were awestruck and said, "Wow, what dignity! She has the dignity of a queen!" Even with only a picture for reference, people could see her dignity and sense she was a true lady.
Trudy did not become idle waiting for her fiance to return. She possessed great abilities in administration and accounting. She used them to make her way up to the position of head cashier and assistant manager of the Rio Platte Sanitarium. The Sanitarium was no small endeavor. On the contrary, it attracted prominent citizens from all over the country for health care. Many of these visitors formed a friendship with Trudy and invited her to their estates for her vacations. During these vacations, she learned to love horses and became an excellent rider, as well as cultivating many friendships. Many people came to know and greatly respect her.
Trudy excelled in her life at the College as well as at work. She always acted in a way befitting of a lady, and never was not a lady. Her peers recognized her ability and responsibility. In those days, many young ladies, who wished they were wives, would join the ministerial club, because the best potential suitors, in their minds, belonged to the club. Trudy had joined as well. During one meeting, the club elected officers for the next year. Trudy was not at the meeting, but was elected secretary anyway. Some girls were jealous because she received the office while she was gone. They didn t protest, though, because they respected her and knew she was a lady.
When Claudio returned from America to marry Trudy, the head therapist at the Sanitarium gave him a free massage as a wedding gift. The day of the wedding he went to the Sanitarium to claim his free massage. While he was being massaged, another man received one beside him. "Have you heard of this up-and-coming young man who just returned from America and is marrying our cashier?" the man asked Claudio.
Claudio decided to play innocent.
"You don t say," replied Claudio, "How did this happen?"
The man filled him in on all the details about how the young man went to America for his education and now, upon his return, was about to marry their beloved cashier, never suspecting that he might be talking to that young man.
Claudio Krieghoff and Trudy Schmidt married in July of 1941 (the man was very surprised when he saw Claudio as the groom) on the second anniversary of their first correspondence while he was in America. The old system of courtship and marriage brought together a true lady and gentleman in a marriage that lasted almost 52 years. They fit together so well that only Trudy s death in 1993 could separate them.
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