In June 1964, Ann Garretson skips her college commencement to tour Europe with Lieutenant Jack Sigg, a tank commander on the German-Czech border, with the hope of returning as his fiancée. A month into their rendezvous, her best friend, Terry, proposes marriage—by mail—throwing all their lives into turmoil.
Jack offers the military life Ann grew up with. Terry, a conscientious objector, will leave for the Peace Corps at the end of the summer—unless the draft board intervenes and sends him to jail. Her dilemma: she loves them both. Caught between the old mores and winds of change, Ann must make an agonizing choice.
In alternating voices, A Rendezvous to Remember presents firsthand accounts by the two who eventually married, enriched by letters from the rival, whose path led him elsewhere. Provocative and delightfully uncensored, this coming-of-age memoir, anchored in the tumult of the sixties, is a tribute to the enduring power of love and family.
On Accurately Setting the Scene: Camping Like Soldiers
July 2014. Fifty years ago, on the night of July 6, 1964, Annie camped out for the last time in an army pup tent. Saint-Tropez, France. With Lieutenant Jack Sigg—not me!
Fond memories for her? Not entirely. The tent was tiny, too intimate for a girl in love but not yet ready for a night of love-making.
Today, she’s writing down memories of that night with the boyfriend she nearly married . . . while her husband is reading over her shoulder. The love scenes are awkward for her, but also for me. I was the guy left behind.
Delicate territory, yes, so we tell ourselves that as writers, we have to be as honest in depicting those nights-together scenes as we are in all other scenes in A Rendezvous to Remember. Ours is a three-person memoir: Ann, Terry—and Jack. To write it, we have to keep in mind that those characters live in a different time. We’re writing about them then—not us now. We’re bringing their stories to light. And we want to describe the scene accurately.
So, Annie and I buy a pup tent and go camping. The real thing: genuine US Army surplus, two pieces of musty-smelling canvas. No floor.
Night falls. At bedtime we squiggle into sleeping bags adroitly configured into one double bag. Annie is pleasantly surprised. “Wow, two sleeping bags do fit in this tent. And comfortably. More spacious than I remembered.”
Me? I’m thinking, Damn, exactly as I feared that summer: side by side, zippers facing, HE would have been well within fondling range. Plenty of room for maneuvers galore.
Sleeping? That’s another matter. We don’t have fancy REI mattresses. And clearly the ground is harder in Colorado than it was in Germany and France fifty years ago. Our hips don’t cotton to sleeping on what feels like concrete beneath the pine needles. We cycle through various sleeping postures: on our backs, knees up, knees down; sides, spoon left, spoon right; bellies; backs again; bellies again. Next morning, we reread chapters 6 and 8.
“Yep, I nailed it,” Annie says. “My drafts of tenting with Jack portray it exactly as it was. Accurate. Plausible. Even the musty tent smell.”
I hesitate. Indeed, plenty of room for two. In fact, plenty of room to make love. Does that mean she and Jack . . . No, don’t go there—you’ve read the drafts of her camping vignettes. You know they didn’t. Besides, that was half a century ago.
Here’s the rub: even back in 1964, I knew my fear that Annie would discover the joy of sex with Jack—rather than with me—was the height of hypocrisy. In those days, the nascent sexual revolution was challenging the dogma that for women, sex before marriage was wrong, along with its incongruous corollary that for men, it was simply proof of masculinity.
Ironically, that lesson from the sexual revolution still provokes a palpable twinge of pain each time I read those scenes—the relic of an old canard that, to my chagrin, has lived on well past its expiration date.
The lesson for memoir writers? Do your research, but look out—the results may cause you grief.
—Terry Marshall, coauthor, A Rendezvous to Remember
A Rendezvous to Remember: A Memoir of Joy and Heartache at the Dawn of the Sixties
by Terry Marshall, Ann Garretson Marshall
Length: 378 pages
Genre: Memoir, Romance
Publisher: Sandra Jonas Publishing
Release date: Feb 2021
Content Rating: R. This memoir contains mature themes, explicit sex scenes, one f-word, and occasional profanity.
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Terry Marshall and Ann Garretson Marshall taught English in the Philippines as Peace Corps volunteers and later served as Peace Corps country co-directors in the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and Tuvalu. Back in the States, they worked side by side as community organizers and activists in Colorado. Terry went on to write fiction and nonfiction works on discrimination, poverty, rural development, and intercultural conflict. Ann has thirty years of experience as a writer, editor, and community-government go-between for issues related to nuclear and hazardous waste cleanup. Always seeking adventure, Terry and Ann have traveled to forty-three countries. They live in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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