Five Grooms for Virginia

Virginia Coleman had five husbands. Not simultaneously, though many suspect an overlap between at least two. These stories get muddled through the years, and the strange details of Virginia’s five husbands, apart from their number, remains obscure.

Virginia grew up the eldest of five children outside Seattle, Washington. I like to think that the number had a special resonance for her. At the age of fifteen she eloped to Alaska with her first husband, Robert Burns (not the poet). Little is known about him. They stayed together long enough to produce one child, a son. Legend has it that when the boy was five months old, Robert went out for a pack cigarettes. He never returned.

Virginia’s second son arrived two years later, followed by a hasty marriage. It’s uncertain if she had divorced the previous husband. At any rate, this second marriage lasted about five minutes. Once again, a late night trip to the corner shop would signal the end to wedded bliss.

A five year gap followed the break up of her second marriage. Virginia struggled to make ends meet, working 9 to 5 at the Five and Dime, five days a week. Then hubby number 3 arrived on the scene.

Little is known of husband number three. Like one in five Americans, he claimed Irish heritage, and was known to enjoy a drink or five. We’ll just call him Rúndiamhair O’Cuig (mystery of five). For all we know
Rúndiamhair may have been a swell guy. What is known for certain is that no children blessed the union, the marriage was brief, and he went the way of those that preceded him. Smoking was popular in those days.

Virginia’s luck changed in 1950 when she married fisherman, Waldemar “Lefty” Alho. But eleven years of marriage ended in tragedy when Lefty’s fishing boat capsized five miles off the coast of Alaska. His body was never recovered. With 500 dollars and a broken heart, Virginia returned to her family in Washington. But her matrimonial stories did not end there.

On the fifth day of the fifth month in 1962, Virginia married Charlie, a non-smoker, with a five acre farm in rural Washington. Together they lived happily to the end of their days. And that is the story of Virginia’s five husbands.

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