They say love finds you when you least expect it. Not for me. Two weeks shy of 17, I was pretty sure I was destined to be an old maid. On that warm, summer evening in 1967 …I was looking.
There were five of them standing in a circle, all wearing blue jeans and short-sleeved, button-downed collar shirts. There were three of us. We moved in closer for a look.
I’ll take the one with the curly hair, I remember saying. Dark, wavy hair, muscular, with a deep tan. Yep, he’s the one that caught my eye.
He’s probably a lifeguard, I thought.
One of us, probably my friend Lil, started a conversation and soon we all walked around the small town festival grounds.
“Want to go for a ride?” said the short, blonde guy who happened to be teamed up with my dark, curly-haired first choice. We headed toward the parking lot and hopped in the front seat of his Chevy. Willie, the blonde guy drove, I was in the middle, Roger, the lifeguard on the passenger side. We drove around town, out in the country on some back roads, past my house which was just a few miles from town.
“Your dad’s a farmer?” one of them asked. They were both farmers, too.
Great, I thought, just what my mother warned me about. When I reached the teen years, my Mom would always say “Whatever you do. Don’t marry a farmer!” She was joking, I think.
We headed back to the festival, to find our friends.
Lil and Pat were frantic. “You went off in a car alone with two guys you didn’t even know? Are you crazy? ” I just smiled. They were in shock. I was the sane one of our group, probably the most predictable. It was me who always said, “We better not do this, we might get caught.”
“They’re nice,” I said, “both farmers.”
Pat rolled her eyes. ” Your mother is going to kill you.”
We laughed, and headed to Pat’s house on foot. We all figured that was the end of the story.
It wasn’t. Willie came back to town a few days later and asked Pat for a date. I kept thinking about the curly-headed farmer.
On a Sunday night about a month later, I was soaking in a hot bath after spending a weekend with Pat at the Lake. We fished for Lake Erie Perch in her Grandpa’s boat, laid out on the beach, and swam.
Mom came tapping at the door. “There is someone here to see you.”
I jumped out of the tub, put my dirty clothes on and ran a comb through my just shampooed hair. When I got to the door, there was that dark, wavy-haired, tan
lifeguard farmer. Willie and Pat were waiting in the car.
Great, I thought. He’s going to take one look at me and run for his life. I had on dirty brown flowered shorts and a Slippery Rock T Shirt. No shoes.
“Would you like to go out Friday night?” I don’t remember what I said, but we set a date and he was gone.
He returned Friday night, half an hour late. We headed back to his hometown and stopped in a local restaurant, Isaly’s, at the corner of Detroit and Columbus.
When the waitress brought his burger and coke, he spilled the coke in his lap. Eventually, we ended up at his house so he could change into dry pants. Then we headed to the Teen Canteen to meet Willie and Pat.
“Where have you been?” Pat wanted to hear all the details. I just rolled my eyes.
“Tell you later, ” I promised.
Later, when he walked me to my door, he said, “May I kiss you good-night?”
That was August 25, 1967. Still kissing that
lifeguard farmer goodnight.