Mary Ann “Scotty” Scott & Ted Wright
Ted’s letters to Scotty bore postmarks and stories from Virginia, Tennessee, Colorado, and finally, California.
It was the spring of ’77, and he and his brother were trekking across the country in an El Camino. They slept in the back and gawked at the country.
Scotty’s best friend worried that after so much adventure, Ted would never come back to New Jersey. But Scotty wasn’t worried.
“I knew Ted would never want to leave his kids,” she said. “And I was beginning to think he would never want to leave me, either.”
Everybody wins when it’s love-love
Ted and Scotty had met the year before at the local high school’s tennis courts. Ted’s usual opponent didn’t show up. He approached a court where two women were playing Canadian doubles against one man and asked one of them — Scotty — if she would join him on the open court.
“I have never seen you run around the court like that!” Scotty’s best friend and roommate, Donna, said afterward.
“We have to come back next week,” Scotty told her.
For the next two weeks, Ted and Scotty also played tennis. They then had dinner at a casual joint in a Cherry Hill strip mall. It was the last first date either would ever have.
“He was attractive, and he had such an outgoing personality that anybody who met him liked him,” said Scotty, who grew up in Delanco and Delran. “He was easy to talk to and fun to be with. He has two children [from his first marriage] who were 6 and 7 when we met, and he was such a good dad. That caught my eye, too.”
Ted, a machinist originally from Audubon, liked how Scotty looked, too. “Then I found out she was a teacher who taught special education. She was such a kind person, a good person. We had a lot of things in common, and I liked her friends, too.”
A year later, with his brother in San Francisco, Ted could not take his mind off of a long-haired hippie chick with wire-rimmed glasses — the one back in Jersey.
“I came back early — with a week to spare in the month I took off of work,” Ted said. He called Scotty and invited her to a pub, where he asked what she was doing for the rest of her life. Scotty agreed to spend it with him.
Two months later, friends and family gathered at the Perkins Memorial in Moorestown. The bride made her entrance as her brother played guitar and sang “Here Comes the Sun.” Scotty took up her guitar and serenaded her new husband with “I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever).” A reception for 150 was held at the Delran Knights of Columbus.
Building home and family
The couple bought five acres and a fixer-upper in Williamstown. Everything but the stove had been stolen from the kitchen. The well was dry. The septic system didn’t work. The first time Scotty’s mother saw the place, she cried.
The couple went to work. About a year later, and with considerable help from their fathers, they had a pretty place suitable for them and kids Tracie and Jeff, who stayed on weekends. They held a huge open house that Christmas — the first of many, many parties.
In 1980, Brian was born; and in 1983, Johanna. In 1986, Scotty threw Ted a huge “Over the Hill” party for his 40th birthday.
“Three weeks later, she met me at the back door with a Manhattan in her hand,” said Ted.
“I’m pregnant,” Scotty told him.
Ted came home a few weeks later to another Manhattan and another announcement: “It’s twins.” Later that year, Quinton and Caitlin were born.
A house with one bathroom could not accommodate six children and two working adults, so the couple subdivided and built their current home without leaving the land they loved.
In addition to working for Precision Automation, Ted, who is now 74, owned his own business, Wright Machine, for 20 years. Scotty, now 68, taught middle school in Gloucester Township Public Schools for 27 years and was the director of special education at St. Joseph’s High School in Hammonton for eight.
The quietest year at the party house
Until recently, the couple held a Memorial Day party for as many as 150 people every year. Scotty and Ted supplied the beer and volleyball, and everyone grilled their own meat and shared sides. “People who came as babies came back with their own kids!” said Scotty.
They stopped hosting Memorial Day in 2018, after the 40th annual bash, but every birthday and holiday becomes an instant party when you have six children and a growing gaggle of grandchildren.
“Normally, when the babies are born, we go to the hospital, and we go to the house to help out,” said Scotty. But the two youngest of the 10 grandchildren were born in 2020, so COVID-19 kept Scotty and Ted away.
Also this year:
· Son Brian turned 40 without the big, planned surprise party.
· The couple hasn’t seen Donna and Michael or any of their other friends, except on Zoom.
· There was no Thanksgiving gathering for dozens at Scotty’s sister’s house. Instead, the couple spent the holiday with Caitlin and her boyfriend, Steve. They had fun, but everyone missed the bigger, louder, traditional Turkey Day.
“It’s been very, very hard,” said Scotty.
She and Ted have adopted a new ritual: Every other week, they pack a lunch and drive somewhere so pretty that it can be appreciated through the car windows: The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. A little-traveled road in the Pine Barrens. Cape May. Lake Barnegat.
“I used to hunt and fish, and I know all of these places,” said Ted. It’s been so much fun to show them to Scotty. “It’s been like dating again,” she said. “And it’s survival, too — we get out of the house a little bit.”
Truth is, they would happily be in their house if it were filled with friends and family. She and Ted usually host Christmas for 20 to 35 people, and Scotty makes one or two of her famous beef Wellingtons to feed them all.
Two weeks ago, after discussions about whether and how some degree of Christmas could be celebrated, 10 family members accepted an invitation with 2020 preconditions: Mask up, always. Isolate as much as possible and socially distance when you cannot. Take your temperature daily. Don’t come if your temp is up or you’re not feeling well.
There will be only one Wellington this year, and Ted won’t have nearly as many glasses to keep full.
They are already thinking ahead to 2021, vaccinations, and packing the house to make up for every gathering they’ve missed.