The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

Never Wanted To Date Any More GIs

Bonnie Wainwright of Huntington, England had no intentions of dating any more Americans. She'd had her fill, thank you very much.

Then, one day, some GIs came to her fathers pud and needed another person for darts. One was Cpl. Carl Keck, a "pretty good looking" fellow who "wasn't realy boisterous." He asked her for a date. She said yes, not intending to go out with him.

"But me mum said, "You said you would. You can't treat people like that.' So I wnt out with him," recalls Bonnie Keck, smiling at the memory of her suitor "riding his bike in from Brampton. It was three miles and there was a big hill, so it wasn't easy for him. He must have liked me well enough."

Well, enough to marry her on April 4, 1945. Four months later, he returned to the United States. And five months after that, in February 1946, young Bonnie Keck sailed into New York aboard the Italian liner Vulcania.

After that, she spent endless hours on a train, arriving at 2:30 a.m. in Washington, Iowa.

They settled in nearby Delta, a modest hamlet of about 600, where Carl Keck went into the hardward business with his father. Bonnie Keck got along with his family, but, "I got real homesick. I missed my family."

In 1951, sandwiched in between the births of their two daughters, the Kecks moved to Colorado when Carl Keck, by now working for a hotel chain, was transferred. Eventually, he went to work for the pst office, Bonnie Keck found work as a file clerk, and they settled in.

In 1979, however, Carl Keck announced he wanted out of the marriage.

"We was married 34 years," says Bonnie Keck, a stiff-upper-lip tone invading her voice. "I tried to talk him out of leaving, but her wouldn't listen. That's when I moved her,"and I been on me own ever since."

She's doing OK, though. Her two daughters have given her five grandchildren who, in turn have given her two great-grandchildren and that part of her life is "wonderful!"

She is very involved with her church and on top of that, "I go line dancing two or three times a week.

Althought she became an American citizen in 1961 and althought "after your children are born here, you feel like this is your home," she admits, "I'll always call England me home; don't ask me why. I guess because I was born and raised there."

The Herald-Palladium, Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, Sept. 26, 2001
by James B. Meadow (Scripps Howard News Service)

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