I didn’t see the cowboys much when I cooked on the Idaho ranch because they usually had sack lunches. However, when asked if I wanted to go on the fall roundup I noticed Dick immediately, as he offered to help me tighten the cinch on my saddle. Think John Wayne: hot guy!
We entered a chaste relationship that lasted all of three weeks, until I left for college at Idaho State University. “John Wayne” aside, I attended my first college dance — where I met “the vulture.” We danced and he took me out for a drink. A straight-laced Methodist teetotaler, I had a Coke while he drank a beer. Then I gripped the door handle of the car in terror, ready to jump out immediately on the way home. Back at the dorm I confirmed that “the vulture” had a reputation for picking up naive freshman girls!
Was I going to the next dance? NO WAY! But then a substitute was needed at the punch stand, and I accepted.
A guy named Bob kept coming out of the kitchen to talk to me. I kind of knew him from Methodist Wesley Foundation meetings. He asked me to save the last dance for him, but when the dance ended he was still in the kitchen. He came out and graciously offered to let me help him do the dishes. I did.
He was the soul of romance. After I had a rough debate competition he arrived with a bottle of Avon perfume that he had heard me mention. One day I saw him on the grass below my third-story dorm room and asked what he was doing.
“Finding a four-leaf clover for you,” he said. He had no car or money, so many dates included walking, kicking fall leaves, looking at gravestones, viewing art, college plays or football games, where he always gave me a big mum to wear.
Thanksgiving came. I went home and saw “John Wayne.” I went back to college and told Bob I really wasn’t sure what I wanted. He kissed my hand, tears in his eyes, and said goodbye.
But by Christmas I knew that a cowboy was not my future. I continued to see Bob at college and church activities, but was ignored.
That summer I cooked on an archaeological dig with several people from Idaho State, including a friend who knew Bob. After hearing my story she said, “But he still loves you. Write him.”
I did. He was registered at the University of Idaho but immediately canceled and re-registered at Idaho State. We dated and knew we were a pair. We got married, graduated together, had three kids, and after 57 years are still married.
He’s never tightened the cinch on my saddle, but continues to deliver four-leaf clovers.
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