A winter marriage proposal in Rice Park. (Photo: Chris Emeott/EmeottPhoto.com)
A winter marriage proposal in Rice Park. (Photo: Chris Emeott/EmeottPhoto.com)

It was my mom’s first marriage proposal. At eight, she was the ­older woman. George was only six. After hasty consideration, Mom turned him down. As she explained to her mother, she couldn’t marry George. He liked carrots. She didn’t.

Mom and George lived across Watson Avenue from each other, at the corner of Edgcumbe Road in the heart of Saint Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood. Besides being a very nice boy, George had a pony named Silverheels stabled in a small shed attached to the garage in his family’s back yard. The year was 1930, and people in the city were allowed to keep animals on their property. According to George, when Silverheels moved his hooves, all you could see was a shining flash of silver.

George had a little red sleigh with runners, to use in winter. His father taught him to hitch Silverheels to the sleigh. Then George and Mom would drive off, right down the middle of Edgcumbe Road. There was almost never any traffic, and they had the street to ­themselves. When summer rolled around, George retired the sleigh and brought out a wicker cart with metal-spoked wheels, fancy upholstered seats, and a small side door that opened. George was always careful to drive at a safe, slow pace.

My mom lost track of George when his family moved to ­Illinois. I smile every time I think of those two small children bundled in the sleigh, sedately driving down a city street. Nothing like that would be possible in today’s fast-paced world, but what a great memory.

This story was told to me by my mother, Jeanne Villaume ­Lepsche.

Marianne McNamara lives in Saint Paul, where she weaves together life as a writer of poetry, a food blogger and chef de cuisine, a shutterbug, and grandmother to the amazing Nora. She began writing after she burned out as a school volunteer. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of anthologies, on sidewalks, and in a magazine.