Pluto and Betty Lou: The Prequel

Robert Joseph Landry, Jr. and Betty Lou Bucklin in June of 1952 in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

I had another topic that I was thinking about writing tonight, but when I sat down to start, I changed my mind.  I decided to find something from the time when my parents were together but not married.  There aren’t many photos from that period, because they didn’t have an extended engagement.  Comparing that short time to the 64 years that they spent together explains why most of their photos together were taken after they were married.

Before they were married, my dad was known as Pluto Landry and my mom was known as Betty Lou Bucklin.  But after they were married, it seems that people usually referred to them as Bob and Betty.  Even when referring to each other, my dad would call her Betty and my mom would call him Bob.  Of course when they were talking to each other, they called each other Honey.

So the prequel to Bob and Betty is the story of Pluto and Betty Lou.  I’ve mentioned previously that they first met in 1950 when my mom went to a Solo and Ensemble Music Festival at LSU in Baton Rouge.  She was looking for the right building to go to, and he was a student there in the band and he was more than willing to help that pretty young baritone player from Hathaway find her way.

Daddy was studying music education at LSU, but then McNeese went from a junior college to a four year college.  So he went back to school in his hometown of Lake Charles to get his bachelor’s degree.  He was the first music student to give a senior recital and he was in the first graduating commencement at McNeese State College on May 26, 1952.

But his senior year of college was a special one.  Betty Lou Bucklin graduated from Hathaway High School in 1951 and she decided to attend McNeese as well.  And since both of them were in band and played the baritone, it was inevitable that they would meet.  Of course my dad had seen a list of the new band members and recognized my mom’s name and made sure to speak to her sooner rather than later!  It wasn’t long before they went on their first date.

I found out a few details about that first date after I posted a story a while back.  I mentioned the name of Harvey Prejean, who was a friend of my dad’s from high school.  Come to find out. my mom and dad’s first date was on a double date with Harvey.  It also happened to be the first time both my mom or dad ever ate pizza.  That sounds like such a commonplace food to eat nowadays, but I suppose it wasn’t back then.  Or maybe my parents led incredibly sheltered lives!  They obviously liked pizza, because our family used to sing at a pizza parlor and we’d eat pizza all the time.

But then trouble between Bob and Betty developed.  Not really, they never had a troubled relationship.  My dad was brought up Catholic and he was devoted to that denomination.  When he found out that my mom was a Methodist, he decided to call it off.  According to my mom, he had been burned by some other non-Catholic girl and wasn’t keen on trusting another one.

They went a short time without seeing each other.  Of course they both played baritone in the band and saw each other every day.  My dad soon realized that he did not want to live his life without that sweet girl from the country.  My mom agreed to becoming a Catholic so they could get married in the Catholic Church.  Interestingly, mom’s older sister Sylvia also was seriously dating a Catholic man and she too decided to join the Catholic Church.  They went through the education and rites together.  When it was time for them to choose godparents, they asked if they could be each other’s godmother.  Strangely, it was allowed. 

So my mom became a Catholic and my parents were married on Nov. 1, 1952.  So began the years of Bob and Betty.

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