“Will You Marry Me” were words of freedom to many young ladies during that era. Freedom from being under the thumb of their protective parents, freedom from being a mother figure to younger siblings and extended family members and freedom to finally live in their truth.
Small Island courtship in the 60s and 70s was quite different, intentional and simple. A date included events such as hand holding, moonlight strolls on the beach, beach picnics or mingling at church, social and community events. Notes and messages were often passed along by friends, family members and classmates. Common during that time were notes with questions such as “Do you want to go out with me? Yes or No (circle one)”.
Courtship was often conducted in group-format, as many times one was only allowed to attend events if the other siblings or cousins went along. This means that she brought her crew and he brought his.
A true power couple in the Virgin Islands, Honorable Vernon E Malone and Icis Malone displayed to the Territory, several years ago the true testament of their love story when they won the First Staged “Not So Newly Wed Game”. Mrs. Malone recalls their courtship to marriage journey.
She first laid eyes on tall, dark and handsome Vernon Malone when he attended a camp event in Brewers Bay held by the Boys Brigade. Some of the boys from the group visited her mother’s snackette and did not pay for their items. Icis was sent to the camp ground by her dad to report the incident. Vernon assured her he would come by and settle the bill. A man true to his word, he did as he had promised. Icis recalls that when he gave her the outstanding money, he squeezed her hand. A range of emotions overtook her and sent shock waves through her body. Butterflies were flying deep in her stomach.
After several chance meetings and many rides to and from her job at Scotia Bank, it was safe to say the courting had begun. Vernon made several trips a week from his home in East End to Brewers Bay to visit and spend time with Ms. Malone. On evenings when it rained and the roads were too bad for Vernon to drive back to East End, he slept in his vehicle in Brewers Bay. The courtship included lunch dates to Stone Haven, Beach Club and Scotia Bank Parties. They also attended other social events with her brother and his girlfriend.
One evening Mr. Rhymer,(Icis’father) told his wife that he would like for her to attend church so that he can have some private time with Icis and Vernon, as he was certain he would visit that evening. Upon Vernon’s arrival, he was asked by Mr. Rhymer what his intentions were with his daughter as he had been coming around for quite some time. That evening he would insist that Vernon write a letter stating his intentions or he wouldn’t be able to continue seeing Icis.
Vernon was nervous, as he didn’t know what to pen in the letter. He asked Icis what he should write and she told him to ask his mother. Uncertain of what was expected of him, Vernon, before he left that night, announced that it would very well be the last night she ever saw him again as her boyfriend. He was a respectful Constable and felt insulted by Mr. Rhymer’s request. What else can Mr. Rhymer want?
Vernon kept true to his word for about a week. He did not make contact with Icis. There were no ride home, no visits, no calls…nothing. She was hurt and devastated! Was it over? Did her dad drive Vernon away?
One Wednesday afternoon as she exited the bank on her way home, Vernon was waiting in his car and was eager to declare his feelings. He handed her the letter he had written. Anxious but excited, she read the letter.
“Dear Mr. Rhymer, I seek your permission to court your daughter Icis. I love her and one day I would like to make her my wedded wife.”
Icis heart smiled. She did not lose him. He loved her, as she loved him. Vernon nervously delivered the letter to Mr. Rhymer that evening and prayed that he would be pleased. It was his promise! His proposal! Mr. Rhymer took the letter and opened it in anticipation. As he read the letter, he beamed with pride and joy. His head shook in agreement. He had received the security he needed. His baby girl Icis would be married one day. After about two years of courting, on 3rd April 1971, Vernon Malone wedded Icis Rhymer.
The Malones will be celebrating 51 years of marriage in a few weeks. Over the years they have had many high, many lows and built successful businesses and illustrious careers in the Territory. Mr. Malone retired from the Public Service after over 50 years of service. He was a past member of the House of Assembly and the first local Commissioner of Police. A few years ago, Mrs. Malone retired from Scotia Bank, after 45 years of service.
The Malones have enjoyed each other’s company, traveled together and built a life filled with love, friendship, mutual respect for each other, laughter and peace in Brewers Bay, with their son Malcolm. Their love stood the test of time.
Mrs. Malone continues to live by these words
“Despite the many challenges of life, I smile. With the mercies of God, I have learned to love and respect my soulmate. I have forgiven the mistakes and hurt of the past. The past has no place in the present or the future.”