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Should a Twelve-Year Old Bride Be Allowed to Date?

October 2001

Anne Marie and I have just returned from a 5200-mile round trip by car to attend Christina's graduation ceremony at Duke University. Although the trip was long and tiring, we both felt it was well worth it. There is something very special about traveling across the country by car. We make a point of eating at local restaurants, avoiding the chains whenever possible. This helps us to take in the local color and get a better feeling for the character of the area. We also enjoy shopping at outlet stores connected to local industries.

Arrowhead Inn

Arrowhead Inn

We left Scottsdale Monday morning and arrived at Durham, North Carolina Friday. That evening and through the weekend we stayed at the Arrowhead Inn, a wonderful Bed and Breakfast that Christina had reserved for us. Saturday morning we picked up Christina at the airport following her flight from her home in Atlanta.

Saturday evening all of us went to the home of Kevin Penn for a barbecue. Christina and Kevin had developed a close friendship while they were attending the Weekend Executive MBA program at Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. At the barbecue were Kevin's two brothers, his parents and significant others. Both Anne Marie and I are very impressed with the Penn family. A wittier, more intelligent and adventurous family would be hard to come by. All three brothers and their girlfriends had just returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, visiting Zanzibar and being on a safari in Africa. We were treated to a synchronized slide show, with music, of the African trip along with slides from another trip of the group while rafting in the West.

Christina & Anne Marie

Christina & Anne Marie

Sunday morning we all went to Duke University for the graduation ceremony. An orchestra was playing delightful music as a prelude. We were thrilled that Christina was first in line to take her seat in the auditorium and first to go onto the stage to receive her diploma. It helps to be well positioned by alphabetical order.

Christina & Kevin Penn

Christina & Kevin Penn

The Dean of the department told about the MBA program at Duke. She said that the program at Duke is ranked number two in the United States and fourth in the world. She explained how difficult the program is and what an accomplishment it was for the graduates. This is clear when you realize that most graduates were involved in demanding executive jobs while taking the MBA program. The program consists of marathon sessions eight hours long on consecutive days of alternate weekends for twenty months. This along with papers and projects demanded and the travel of several hundred miles each weekend on top of the sixty hours plus workweek and you can see how rightfully the praise was for the graduates. We are very proud of Christina and her accomplishments. Anne Marie, of course, was really beaming with pride.

Duke University Chapel

Duke University Chapel

After the ceremony, we did get to see some of the campus. The central window of the Chapel was particularly beautiful. We also enjoyed the reception sponsored by the University.

A highlight of our stay in Durham was dinner at the Fearrington House Sunday evening. The Fearrington House is one of only a handful of Mobil Five Star recipients and AAA Five Diamond award winners in the country. We were the guests of Kevin Penn's brother Derek Penn. Derek, in his thirties, had just retired from being a vice-president at J.P. Morgan Bank where he had developed innovative software programs dealing with stock derivatives. The three Penn brothers and their significant others along with their father and his wife were at the dinner. Throughout the meal we were regaled by the wit of the Penn family. It was a really fun evening.

Carolina Log Cabin

Carolina Log Cabin

For those of you who are wondering about the title of this piece and how it fits in, here is the explanation: While we were in Durham, North Carolina we stayed in a Carolina log cabin that is a part of the Arrowhead Inn. When we met the innkeepers upon our arrival they showed us a portrait of a woman named Susan Lipscomb and told us about the history of the Arrowhead Inn. Susan Lipscomb's gravestone is in the garden and the Innkeeper told us that some guests are aware of her presence to this day. The main house of the Inn was once the manor house of a two thousand-acre plantation. The farm grew tobacco and cotton and had over one hundred slaves. Beautiful trees planted over two hundred years ago, perhaps by Susan herself, grace the grounds of the Arrowhead Inn.

When the house was originally built in 1775, it consisted of only four rooms. The original owner of the land grant property, a man of twenty-two, took as his bride a twelve year old girl. The girl, Susan, assumed the duties of mistress of the property. This young couple flourished and the property developed into one of the most prosperous plantations in that part of North Carolina. Susan went on to have four children and died in childbirth at the age of thirty-one.

After hearing this story told by the Innkeeper, Anne Marie remarked, "I wouldn't let my daughter date at twelve years old."

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