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By Laura Moncur in The Disappearance of Glen and Bessie Hyde

Reno, NevadaBack in 1928, waiting for residence in Reno to go through so I could legally get a divorce felt like an eternity. Glen drove down from Idaho as often as he could to visit me, but I spent most of that time in a purgatory of my own making.

There was an entire community of women in Reno, earning their right to divorce their respective husbands, but I had so little in common with any of them. They were jumping from one husband to the next with children in tow. Although I had Glen eagerly waiting for my divorce, I felt like I was different somehow. I knew with a knowledge so strong that I didn’t need Glen to survive. I loved him. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, but I also knew that if I found myself cuckolded and abandoned again, that I would survive without him. I remember how grateful I was to my bum of a first husband for teaching me that painful lesson. It was the only good thing he ever did for me.

My ability to find friends among the future divorcees of Reno was also hindered by my technical obsessions. Growing up with a Naval father, an intellectual mother and two Navy-bound brothers made me ill-equipped to feign interest in the tedium of child-raising. Since the conversation of these women could focus on little else, I preferred to perfect my Wondrous Water Breather rather than congregate in the yards around our meager living quarters. With that much time alone, my prototypes were completed quickly.

University of NevadaThere was no where to test the WWBs except for the swimming pool at the University of Nevada. I ingratiated myself with the maintenance staff and gained access at night to test my equipment. You can’t imagine my joy the first time I was able to make it work. Learning how to set the pressure, hold the apparatus in my mouth and swim with the bulky canister strapped to my back took some time.

For years, I scolded myself for Glen’s death. If only I had insisted that he have more practice with the WWB before we left for the Grand Canyon, he might have survived that night. I truly felt that it was only my experience and dexterity with my WWB that saved me and his ineptness with the equipment that killed him. I was miserable during my lonely penance in Reno, but it was that solitude and the clandestine visits to the college swimming pool that saved my life that fateful evening.