Columnist "Porky" Cutter recalls the courtship and early days of his marriage to Bess.

Porky and Bess celebrating Christmas a few years ago.
Bess and I were classmates from the fourth grade and she'll be my wife of 48 years next September - I think. She thought I was a spoiled brat in school and most of the time, she thinks I still am. What the hey - I like it.

Bess and her family moved away from Covington, Okla., and we lost communication for a time. Later, my family and I moved to Enid, Okla., and I saw these two girls walking home from school several times. I followed them in my Jeep station wagon, too bashful to stop and talk to them.

One day, I followed them all the way home and only then did I realize it was Bess and her sister, Mary. I was too bashful to talk to Bess so I would visit with her dad. After several visits with her dad, I finally got up enough nerve to ask Bess and her sister to ride with me to get a Coke.

I knew I wanted to date Bess but thought she was too young. One day while I was visiting her dad, they were celebrating a birthday for Bess. I then found out that we were about the same age. I still didn't have enough nerve to ask her for a date. One day, I went by her home to tell Bess I was going to Oklahoma City and if she wanted to go along, we would stop by to visit her sister Mary, who was attending Bible college there. She agreed to go along but we attended the Oklahoma state fair instead of visiting Mary.

Later, Bess was attending the same Bible college, so I would drive some 100-plus miles each week just to pick her up where she was night manager at Kat's Drug Store, take her back to her dormitory and then drive all the way back to Enid. This went on for quite some time.

While I was drilling wells on the Arkansas River, near Alma, Ark., I had tried to talk Bess into coming to visit me for a week in Alma. She wouldn't agree unless she could bring a chaperone, either her sister or her girlfriend. I definitely didn't want her to bring her sister, so she brought her married girlfriend. Her girlfriend was married to a Navy sailor and he was away. I later found out Bess had been engaged to her friend's twin brother. Bess requested I get them their own motel room across the motel from mine. Reluctantly, I did.

About a week later, I had about talked her into marrying me. We took her friend back to Enid. Bess' folks weren't at home in Enid, so we left them a note. Our (Bess') plans were to go back to Alma, where she would find a job and after a time, we would get married. Of course, she still required her own motel room across from mine.

About a week later, my folks arrived in Alma for a visit. They told us that if we really were planning to get married, we should go ahead and get married because everyone back home thought we already were married. They told us if we weren't getting married right away, it would be best if Bess returned home to Enid with them. Bess decided her reputation must already be ruined, so we got married.

Just before we were to be married, we received a phone call from her folks in Enid. I discouraged her from calling them until after we were married. It ended up they just were wanting to congratulate us.

We were married in Van Buren, Ark., in 1957 by a friend of Bess', and a former minister of the Enid Pentecostal church. Right after we were married, I had to go look at a prospective well job and then it was on to our honeymoon at Tenkiller Lake in Oklahoma. She got sunburned so bad on my boat that we only could go out at night for a while. We had a three-day honeymoon and then back to work drilling wells. Our first home was in a motel between Alma and Van Buren, Ark.

A week later, we returned to the same church for Sunday services. The minister had me stand in front of the congregation and asked me if I was happy. I stuttered, stammered and said, “Yes.” I was so embarrassed being in front of a church crowd that Bess has trouble getting me to go to church today.

Before Bess and I married, she had never been to a movie, rodeo, wrestling match, swimming, boating, skiing, parking or a drive-in; almost all she had ever experienced was going to church. Soon after, she wanted to experience a theater and then a drive-in movie - then a wrestling match, a rodeo and a carnival. At the carnival, I think we rode every crazy ride there was until I became somewhat sick from the rides. She still was ready for more rides. She loves those crazy rides today.

Sometime later, we were doing a drilling job near Ashdown, Ark., and again staying in a motel. I came home one day, opened the door and immediately thought I was in the wrong room! Bess was wearing make-up. It apparently was against her religion to wear make-up. But she had studied books, gone to the store, bought make-up and looked even better than I had ever seen her. She was beautiful - and still is!

Sometimes I think it was better when she didn't wear make-up because she always was ready to go in a minute - now it seems like it takes hours.

We traveled all over the U.S., staying in motels most of the time. It was great fun for many years.

While living in Chanute, Kan., drilling oil wells, I was contracted to go to Beaver, Utah, to core for uranium. We purchased a new pickup and a new 8-foot-by-35-foot Great Lakes mobile home in 1958 and went to Beaver where we core-drilled for uranium for three months. Bess rode up into the mountains in a Jeep almost daily to watch and help me drill until she became too pregnant with our first child, Cindy Lynn. Cindy died 30 hours after birth and is buried in a Mormon cemetery in Beaver. Shortly thereafter, we returned to Chanute, Kan., and I was drafted into the U.S. Army, which connects to a couple of my previous stories - “I Better Put on My Shoes” and “Porky in the Army.”

Today, Bess is like an old car - she still looks pretty good, runs OK most of the time and makes a lot more noise than she used to, but I still love her. I'll just keep her until she quits running altogether.

Watch for a rebuttal to this article, probably titled “Equal Time,” by Bess.

Editor's note: Please be advised that the contact information for George Failing II provided at the end of "What A Shock -- And Sharing History" (ND, August 2004) has been expanded to include a Web address: Photos or stories about George Failing can be e-mailed to his grandson using the e-mail feature on this site or can be sent to him at