With wedding season about to bloom, amidst photos of a royal matrimony floating everywhere, one of my all-time favorite love stories remains that of my parents.
An unlikely meeting makes it all the more one of those filed in the ‘meant to be’ category. My mother was a beautiful, spunky girl, living on the outskirts of Ashland on a 10-acre homestead, in the house where she had been born.
Her father, who had nicknamed her Dimples, had a small barn for a couple of horses, sometimes a lamb or two. In spite of that, she was more of a town girl, walking with girlfriends to babysit, attend dances, watch ballgames or strike up one of their own.
A couple of miles further out of town and back a long lane, a spirited, red-haired lady had a farm and a lovely, well-kept pond filled with large goldfish. Nellie was the welcoming sort, personable and sociable, busy in political circles when she wasn’t delegating farm plans at home.
My mother had become good friends with a neighborhood girl named Orene, a year older, who had quite often gone swimming at Nellie’s pond. My mother was invited along, and one summer it became one of their favorite things to do.
“We would lie on that little dock as if it’s what we were born to do,” my mom has often said.
One day, Nellie’s nephew drove in to help his aunt with a planting job. He was driving a nice car, and the two girls were impressed by a glimpse of the dark-haired fellow.
“But, we acted as though we didn’t notice him at all,” Mom says.
They learned he was from Jeromesville, which seemed worlds away, and explains why they had never seen him before, and likely wouldn’t see him again. When he returned a couple weeks later to run the tractor, again the girls were determined not to notice him.
Dad later told me, because he was so busy farming himself, it was rare for him to visit his Aunt Nellie. He noticed new scenery over on the dock. He made a point of offering to return on a sunny day.
Later in the summer, he convinced his cousin to go with him to Aunt Nellie’s, a boy who was bold enough to chat with two pretty girls he had never seen before.
“Are you from around here?” he asked. “Not far,” my mother answered, giving nothing away.
Orene kind of took a shining to this boy, while my father found the courage to say hello to Orene’s pretty girlfriend.
“I bet Dad’s cousin Dick was a good looking guy,” I said to Mom last night as she told this story. “Oh, I don’t know. I only had eyes for your Dad,” she said. “He was tall, with that dark, wavy hair, and so handsome.”
She even described the striped polo shirt he was wearing that day as if it were yesterday. This was the day it became much more difficult to pretend she didn’t notice him. Their first date was to the county fair in September, and to visit an uncle he considered a big brother.
Dad’s quiet ways meshed well with my mother’s light-hearted social soul, but she continued to barely notice him every chance she got. To have heard my Dad tell it, this beautiful girl was so aloof he felt certain there was no way he could land a memorable impression.
Of course, that made her even more attractive. She wasn’t a flirt. She could check her brother’s trap lines, carry the catch home, then clean up and knock the socks off of any boy who noticed her at the square dance by completely ignoring him.
I didn’t know until last night that once Dad had definitely landed her, he nearly blew it all when he told her he couldn’t take her to the prom because he had to plant corn.
He had secured rental ground that he hoped to purchase (and did, many years later) and he couldn’t blow his chance at farming “on the shares” with two sisters who owned it.
A very old cemetery was tucked at the edge of this property, and while at the prom with her ‘date’ Orene, my mother said, “I hope he gets the spooks every time his tractor lights shine on those old tombstones!”
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