Home from the Navy in 1947, I started school at Greenville College in my hometown of Greenville, Illinois, about 50 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri.
I had been out of high school for four years, but my high school principal, Mr. Gardner, invited me to a Valentine’s Day dance at school. We lived in a small community, and the thought of seeing my former teachers was intriguing. So I agreed.
When Friday came, I cleaned up, gussied up and drove to the high school gym. I chatted with my former teachers and approached Mr. Gardner to thank him before leaving. Just then, the band started playing and a young woman stood up to sing. One look at her and I was mesmerized. I had never seen such a beautiful woman, so I concluded that she must be from a nearby town.
I asked Mr. Gardner who she was, and he answered, “That’s Marilyn Riley, Cut Riley’s daughter.”
I was flabbergasted to say the least. The Rileys lived just around the corner from me.
I walked across the gym floor to introduce myself and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Joseph.”
“I know who you are,” was her not-too-friendly response.
“Would you like to dance?” I asked.
“No!” she shot back.
“Why not?” “I’m working,” she replied.
“Can I call you next week for a movie date?” I asked.
“No,” was her response.
I could see no reason to argue, so I thanked her for nothing, tucked my pride in my coat pocket and left.
For the next month I phoned, trying to set up a date. She always had the same answer: No.
Then one rainy afternoon in March as I was driving home after basketball practice, I saw Marilyn, the “No” girl, walking with no umbrella, no raincoat, no hat.
I pulled alongside her and asked if she needed a ride, half expecting her to say no. Instead, she stepped over the curb and plopped down on the seat next to me. It was only a few blocks to her house, but after pulling into her driveway we talked for 45 minutes. It was magic from then on.
Valentine’s Day will always hold a special place in my heart. The most beautiful woman I’d ever seen became mine.
More Than Two’s a Crowd
MY HUSBAND, Reginald, and I were married on July 24, 1948, at a little stone church in Castleton on-Hudson, New York. It was a lovely summer day, and the ceremony and the reception went beautifully. For our honeymoon, we had planned to spend a week at Indian Lake in the Adirondacks, where my husband’s family had a camp.
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