Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The Mormon Temple
Ten years ago today, on April 24, 1997, the Mormon Church held an “open house” for the media at its then-new temple in St. Louis (pictured). At the time, I was working at KWMU, the NPR station in St. Louis, and was keen to go, since non-Mormons (such as yours truly) are not permitted inside temples after they are dedicated. My news director, Lester Graham, was skeptical about the newsworthiness of the event, but I convinced him to let me cover it anyway.
There was a large tent set up outside the temple where the reporters were divided into small groups before being led inside by Mormon guides.
Walking into a Mormon temple is not like walking into a grand cathedral. It’s more like walking into an apartment building. Mormons divide their temples into a series of rooms on different levels, where various sacraments (e.g., baptism, marriage) are performed. I found this very interesting… but not as interesting as another reporter in my group. She had red hair and freckles and was wearing a green dress. Her name was Allyson.
As the tour continued I casually sidled up alongside her. I don’t remember the first thing I said to her, but it was almost certainly a sarcastic remark of some kind, intended to be intelligent and charming. Whatever it was, I guess it worked.
When the tour was over, the Mormons invited the reporters to stay for a light lunch. I had a longstanding policy of refusing such offers, fearing even the slightest hint of impropriety (a fear, incidentally, that sportswriters don’t have). But Allyson was staying, so I made an exception on this occasion. We sat at a small table with one of the guides. As I recall, we had cucumber sandwiches on white bread with the crust cut off.
After lunch we walked out to the parking lot together. A moment of truth was rapidly approaching. How it came about exactly, I don’t recall, but we ended up exchanging business cards (how romantic). She drove off in her Toyota Tercel. It’s the car in which I would finally learn how to drive a stick shift. I noticed that she had very good posture: I’d never seen anybody sit up so straight while driving a car!
A little more than 18 months later we were married. We may be the only Gentile couple in the world to have met inside a Mormon temple.
Thank you, Lester, for letting me go to the Mormon temple that day.
Thank you, Allyson, for being there that day – and every day since.