Archive for the ‘Free Bird’ Tag

June 13, 1975   4 comments

Love At First Sight - TargetIt was an incredible gift.  The greatest gift.  And most people don’t even believe in it.  But they want to.

I believe.

I proposed to Velda on our first date.  It was love at first sight.  Well, not quite first sight … but this is our story.

It was 1974.  I had resolved to go to the best college I could imagine attending.  For this dirt-poor boy, that was the University of Missouri.  I won scholarships, applied for financial aid, got part-time jobs … and stitched together the money to make it work.  That was the deal I had with my folks: if I could pay for it, I could go.

When I was one of two in the nation that won the $500 annual scholarship from Dad’s employer, Skelly Oil Company, I knew I could pay tuition and it would all work (yes, $500 was all it took for my annual tuition).

Come August 1974, it was off to Columbia, MO to discover what life had in store for me.

My eyes were opened in amazing ways.  My first roommate only lasted a week, then he moved out to become a dorm Resident Assistant.  My next roommate … well, let’s just say this Eagle Scout wasn’t cut from the same cloth as that idiot. I moved across campus at the semester break to Hudson Hall, and that proved to be a very, very good move.

I had graduated from Nodaway-Holt High School, in a class of 36.  Of those 36, 4 went to Mizzou.  All were my good friends, of course, and one of those was Janie, who lived across the street in Schurz Hall.  Her roommate was Charity, and Charity had a friend named Velda.

With me so far?

Not sure when I first met Velda, but it was probably February of ’75.  She was a friend of a friend of a friend, and I paid her no mind.  I was a theatre major and she was, uh, different.  She came from the big city, and I’d never even been to the big city. I remember her giving me advice on how to cut my hair (which I disregarded).  She was in the same big chemistry class that I was, but it was a big lecture with 400+.  That class was a dog fight to get grades, because it was the class required for anyone in the bio sciences: pre-med, bio, PT, nursing … all of high school’s “A” students were in that class.  Me, I was the theater major in the honors lab just trying to survive.  Velda, she was in a different lab and a totally different place.  Again, no connection there.

There was a mixer (AKA dancing to a DJ before that was the least bit cool) at Hudson Hall one night, and I was there.  Velda was there with a bunch of people.  That night we didn’t talk at all that I recall, but we did have one dance.  It was the 70s: we danced to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic “Free Bird.”  It was electric.  Please, allow me to repeat that.  Electric.  One dance … and that was that.

Done.

We still weren’t a couple, but I’d never felt anything like that before … or since.

The end of the semester came and we were freshmen no more.  I had resolved to return for summer school, as had Velda, come to find out.  I was living in a campus dorm; she was in the more expensive private dorm. Neither of us knew anyone else that was at summer school. That first week, I called to ask her out (the first time I had ever called her), and Friday night was our first date.

June 13, 1975.

Instant connection.  Instant communication. Instant.

I proposed that night. And she said YES!

We were 18 years old. I was 3 years from graduation, working 2 jobs to pay my bills.  A ring wouldn’t happen for another year, and it was not that impressive.

But Velda was.  And is.

Love at first sight.  I believe.

More

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