It was a nice fall weekend in 1963 after a football game at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. There she was, this cute, diminutive coed from DePauw University hanging out with one of my …
It was a nice fall weekend in 1963 after a football game at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. There she was, this cute, diminutive coed from DePauw University hanging out with one of my fraternity brothers at the Phi Delta house. (He was a fellow named Tommy who played wide receiver for the Little Giants football team despite being a touch undersize. Actually, BJ’s father called him the “Littlest Giant.”) I was smitten.
Wabash and DePauw have this incredible 125-year-old rivalry. Wabash is a men’s college, 800 strong. DePauw is coed and well known as an enclave for beautiful young women aspiring to trap and marry Wabash men. At least that is what my friend Terry Umbreit, DePauw Class of 1961, insists.
It was more than two years later when BJ and I crossed paths again. It was the spring of 1966, and I was looking for female companionship for a Saturday evening, and BJ was looking for somebody to buy her a beer. I called the Theta house at DePauw to see if there was someone available and I found not only one, but two willing partners for the evening, BJ and her friend Jill. Upon realizing who they were (BJ and a friend), I knew I needed a bigger bank account or somebody to share the bar bill. I recruited a fraternity brother, Tom “Bugsy” Williams.
We reviewed the pictures of the two women in a DePauw yearbook and flipped a coin to determine which of us would hang out with which coed. My life changed forever. Upon our arrival at the Theta house, BJ and Jill came tripping down that fancy staircase built into most sorority houses, and we were off to Moore’s Bar in downtown Greencastle. When we entered, the barkeep greeted us with, “BJ, you’re back!” Yep, BJ had been there already that day. What is not to like? This is a girl on a first-name basis with the barkeeps in Greencastle, Indiana. A couple of weeks later I borrowed a car, and we went to see Jerry Lee Lewis at the Holyoke Bar in Indianapolis.
After 50 years, Moore’s Bar, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Holyoke and our marriage are all still alive. Unfortunately, the Holyoke has morphed into a tire store.
We were married 50 years ago this Friday in St. Louis, Missouri, a week before I joined the Navy. After Wabash, I went to work for IBM, and BJ already had been writing computer programs for McDonnell Aircraft, now Boeing, and Sherwin-Williams. Her skills would serve us well over the next several years as the Navy moved us to Pensacola, Norfolk and Washington, D.C. I bought the beer; she was a computer programmer for a long list of companies and paid the rent.
After the Navy, I went back to IBM in Pittsburgh, our two children were born, and we lived in Endicott, New York; San Rafael, California; Lee’s Summit, Missouri; and finally settled here in Port Ludlow when it became obvious that our children were going to raise our grandsons in Seattle.
We have enjoyed our family, our careers, our travels and our friends in all the places we have lived. We look forward to celebrating the past 50 years with many of those people over the weekend. I remind you of an observation by Jefferson Machamer: “Marriage teaches one invaluable lesson. To think of things far enough ahead of time to not say them.”
Follow BJ’s lead and love a curmudgeon while you have a great week.
Ned Luce writes this column monthly from his home in Port Ludlow, where he is active in the community. He can be reached at email@example.com.