Happy Anniversary to my wife of 43 years

Amy Thompson on a trip on Amtrak's Acela to New York City in 2001:
The beautiful lady who spent all that time with me is my wife, my lover and an equal partner in our lives.

On Dec. 15, 1979, Amy Lee Seiber and I stood before the Rev. Lawrence Jackman and accepted the vows for the second marriage for each of us in the Mississippi River city of Alton, IL, in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Friends already had a pool on how long this marriage would last The longest choice in that pool was just a year but today is our 43rd anniversary between a newspaperman and actress.

Amy’s acting brought us together in 1977. Alton’s Little Theater would stage a yearly summer charity play and would bring in a professional to help anchor the cast. That summer’s play was a melodrama and she had been the resident heroine on the Goldenrod Showboard’s such shows on the St. Louis riverfront. I was asked to portray the villain because my columns in the Alton Telegraph caused a lot of controversy in the community.

At the first gathering of the cast, Amy told me that we had met, briefly, at a party of students of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, where she studied drama, and I showed up as the date of the girl she recalled was “fast and loose” and not invited.

In the newspaper review of the melodrama where we met, Amy as the heroine in the melodrama where we got together. Yes, that was her future husband in the lower left photo. It was the first time the villain won over the heroine in a melodrama.

“I figured she was the type of woman you hung around with,” she later told me. “I decided I didn’t want anything to do with you.”

She also didn’t like my review of one of the plays she appeared in at SIUE. Another strike.

She was 26. I was 31. I was divorced, and she was working to get out of a bad marriage. She was also downright gorgeous, had a great sense of humor, and had a sharp mind that I could not resist. As rehearsals began, I tried to go out with her. She rejected my advances.

I kept trying, but she kept rejecting me until she had car trouble one night and needed a ride home. On the way, I suggested we stop at a popular local bar for a drink. Afterward, we were in my Triumph TR-6 sports car making out like teenagers. She blamed the night in the Black Russian drinks served to her by the bartender. I felt it was great luck. By the time the melodrama ended, we were dating.

Still, she had doubts. I had a reputation as a lady’s man who thought a long relationship was a three-day weekend. I worked hard as a reporter, photographer, and columnist for The Telegraph newspaper and partied even harder. Not only that, but I enjoyed the company of women. This was the “swinging 70s” when widespread use of the birth control pill gave single women the chance to enjoy sexual relationships without fears of pregnancy.

Amy’s mother warned her about dating me. She had heard the rumors about my philandering.

Amy was a free spirit and, after a bad marriage, had no intention of getting “tied down” in another relationship with a problem man. We both swore we would “not marry again.”

After a few months of dating, a conversation over lunch turned into a serious discussion about our feelings toward each other and ended with an agreement to get married, which we did on Dec. 15, 1979. in the home of Rev. Jackman, the minister of the Presbyterian Church where I served as an officer, with his wife and kids as witnesses.

Afterward, we took Larry and Sandy, his wife, to dinner at a nice restaurant in Westport Plaza near St. Louis and near the hotel where we would spend our first evening together as man and wife.

During that dinner, Amy asked why the marriage ceremony didn’t include the pronouncement that “I pronounce you man and wife.”

Larry was shocked: “Oh, my God, did I forget that?” He took our hands as he said, “by the laws invested in me, I pronounced you man and wife” just as the waiter brought the appetizers. He asked: “Is this like getting married by the captain of a ship?”

Later, in the following year, Amy and I  took the Panama Limited train from Chicago to New Orleans for a proper honeymoon in the Big Easy.

Two years after marrying, we left Alton for Washington, DC, where I became a Capitol Hill staffer, and she worked on various dramatic events, including with Al Pacino on a Lincoln Center Tribute to Lee  Strasberg in New York. She appeared in commercials and landed the lead in the David Mamet play, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” a freewheeling tale about the relationships and sex lives of two couples that later became a movie with the changed title: “About Last Night.” Demi Moore got her part.

During our early years in Washington, she would be gone months at a time, appearing in plays on the road or directing several. I would be on the road too. Sometimes, we would meet up where she was working.

She stuck with me during my drinking days and helped me face my problem and take my first step towards sobriety with Alcoholics Anonymous on the same day I walked away from politics and returned to journalism. On this wedding anniversary, I also celebrate 28 years, six months, and nine days sober.

Amy on a camel ride in Israel in 1983.

Amhy will be the first to say living with me has not been easy. She’s right. I had serious anger problems early in our marriage. It took the first 20 years together for me to gain control over my emotions and my ego. She is the barometer now who keeps me in check.

But our good times have outweighed the bad. We’ve traveled the world together. She rode camels in Israel and toured the old city of Jerusalem. She fell in love with Rome. We spent a colorful New Year’s Eve in London, gambled in casinos in the Caribbean, got stuck in a four-wheel-drive near the highest peak on the island of Lanai in Hawaii during a heavy storm, and had to hike several miles back to our hotel.

We spent one Thanksgiving in Manhattan to watch the Macy’s Parade in reserved seats and, in another time in the city, had dinner with acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz, who I first met when she was shooting The Who for Rolling Stone at the Mississippi River Festival on the grounds of Amy’s alma mater.

We’ve known good friends like Adrian Cronauer, the real armed services DJ portrayed in “Good Morning Vietnam,” had dinner with Gov. John Connolly, who was shot in the limo when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and we listened as he, after a few too many bourbons, said he didn’t believe a word of the Warren Report that declared Lee Harvey Oswald the sole assassin.

We met actor Paul Newman, who stayed in the same hotel as us during a trip to the pole weekend of the Indy 500. He remembered me photographing him in an SCCA race near St. Louis during our time there. we also met actors Sam Sheppard and Julia Roberts, who stayed in our hotel, the Fairmont in New Orleans while they filmed a key scene in The Pelican Brief.

As a long-time fan of St. Louis Cardinal baseball, she met and talked with Roger Maris, who initially broke Babe Ruth’s home run record and other baseball players at a reception in Washington. Maris, she later told me, pinched her butt. We also watched long-time Baltimore Orioles player Brooks Robinson play in the last season of his legendary career.

We danced at the Inaugural Ball for President George H.W. Bush, attended two formal Presidential dinner,s and got to know a lot of famous people in both acting and government.

Happy anniversary to my friend, my lover, and my wife. Without you, I would not still be alive and I look forward to spending the rest of our lives together.

In Rome in 1987.

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