Grandma’s long-distance love affair

Grandma (Berniece Meyer Davidson Spires) first met Eddie Spires in 1928, when she was 16 years old. Eddie had accompanied his buddy, Ed McNutt, to Bingham to visit Ed’s girl, Lenore Harrison, who lived there. Ed and Lenore later married.

Both men lived east of Ramsey – Eddie Spires in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. For Eddie, it was love at first sight, although Berniece did not know this. Distance and lack of transportation kept them from meeting again – until after World War II.

One of six children, Berniece was born on Aug. 1, 1912, near Bingham, the daughter of Ora Theodore and Ina Roverta Cole Meyer. Her twin brother, Burnell, died in early childhood.

She was 17 years old when she met Jerry Bryan Davidson at a house dance southeast of Bayle City. He told her fairly early in the evening that he was going to walk her home. She was his girl from that moment on.

Jerry also lived in Bingham, the son of Joseph and the Rev. LuBertha Wayne Davidson. The couple married on Dec. 4, 1930, and were parents of two children, Bennie Dean and Marilyn Jean Davidson.

Jerry was killed the morning of April 19, 1939, at the Bingham railroad crossing when an eastbound train hit his auto. A work gang at the crossing, which included Jerry’s younger brother, Given, were witnesses to the accident. It was found that the engineer was speeding, and Berniece received a small amount of money from the railroad.

A few months before his death, Jerry and Berniece and their children had moved into her mother’s home to help care for her. When Jerry died, his son, Bennie, was 9 years old and his daughter, Marilyn, was 5.

News of the war began to fill the headlines, and a list of area men serving in the military was published in the Ramsey News -Journal, with a request for local residents to write to those far away from home, especially during the Christmas season.

Berniece chose three soldiers to write to – a cousin, a brother of her late husband and Edward Isaac Spires, who was serving in the South Pacific.

In the first letter she received from Eddie, he wrote of his surprise to hear from her, and asked whether her husband minded that she was writing to him. When she wrote to him that she had been a widow for six years, their relationship rekindled.

During the several years he was overseas, Eddie and Berniece kept up a weekly correspondence. Ed, at age 38, was the oldest man in the unit, and was looked on as a father figure to the young soldiers he was serving with.

Those returning home after the war did so by a point system. Men with a wife waiting at home were given a number of points, and children added more points. Those with the most points were given the earliest departure dates.

Berniece kept every letter she received during their long-distance courtship, and several mention when Ed would be allowed to return to the mainland.

On Christmas Eve in 1945, while Berniece and her children were celebrating Christmas with her mother, Ina, and other family members, there came a knock at the door.

Berniece opened the door, and on the porch stood Eddie.

He had arrived at Jefferson Barracks for processing, took the first train home, greeted his parents, cleaned up and headed for Bingham. The two had not seen each other since 1929. What a Christmas present!

Berniece and Eddie married on May 4, 1946, with Oral Brown and Eddie’s niece, Lois Daniels, as their attendants.

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