Friday, August 31, 2018

When Jimmy Met Donna: My Parents In The Beginning

It's time for summer vacation! Although I'll be traveling for the next few weeks, Family Sleuther is still hard at work. I'm turning things over to my aunt and mother who have both graciously agreed to share family history gems in my absence. 

This week's post features what I hope is the beginning of a series of reminiscences from my mom. As genealogists, we're great at studying the lives of our ancestors. But what about our more immediate family. Are we asking, listening, and remembering the stories that have most directly shaped our lives? This week, my mom recounts how she and my dad met.

When I was 16 years old, I was in the car with my mom driving down Old Kipling Road towards Bear Creek. We passed a cute little boy playing out front of his house. He had curly hair, and I told my mom, "I'm going to have a curly haired little boy when I get married!" She quipped that I had better marry a curly headed man then, because the curly hair wasn't going to come from me.

In March of 1973, I was a senior in high school and our neighbor, Barbara, was going to be celebrating her 18th birthday with a party at her house on Saturday night.

Barb had recently broken up with her boyfriend, Chuck, and she was going to invite Jimmy, whom she knew from summers waterskiing at Boyd Lake in Loveland. Jimmy's and Barb's families had been waterskiing together at Boyd for several years, and they had carried on a little flirtation for awhile.

Barb told me she was going to try to "get Jimmy back" the night of her party. Unfortunately, Barb's plan would go awry.

I don't remember much about the party. Maybe we had pizza. There would have been music on the stereo and I think we played a card or board game on the living room floor.

I do remember when Jimmy showed up with two of his friends: Guy, who was 6 foot 4, and Chris, who was 6 foot 5. It was instant attraction between me and the 5 foot 8 guy. I'm 5 foot 10, but by gosh he had curly hair! And a dimple when he smiled, and way more confidence than any 17-year-old guy ever had any business having.

He was also the guy that my girlfriend was going to try to rekindle something with, but he had eyes for me. He had curly hair, a nice physique, and was sooo cute. I could see past the Bozo the Clown hair that he grew long and tried parting down the middle. It would be much more attractive when he finally cut it short on my 21st birthday and took me out for a fancy dinner and drinks. He was still two months away from being 21, but when you look like a man at 17 and you ooze confidence nobody ever seems to ask for an ID. At least they never did him.

Mom and Dad
The month following the birthday party, Jimmy would drive up to Green Mountain in the tow truck he was working in and we would sit in the truck and neck. That was a fun summer.

My Mom and stepdad had finally decided to divorce after years of fighting. I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. My sister Diane had moved out of the house after she graduated in 1971. My other sister had married in our junior year, and it was just my little brother, mom, and me.

I took advantage of not having an iron-fisted disciplinarian in the house and, being 18, stayed out as long as I wanted. Once, during the summer of 1973, I went out with Jimmy in the tow truck while he worked the red-eye shift. We were having so much fun and, before we knew it, the sun was coming up. Mom wasn't happy with me, and insisted I get serious about finding a job.

Over the next five years that we dated, we broke up and got back together more times than I can count. We both dated other people but never more than a couple of dates. I had my heart set on him and I was willing to wait. I was in love.

Forty years later, it was worth it. Not easy, but easily worth it.

 Mom and Dad's wedding reception


  1. Nothing like the 70s! My high school boyfriend had hair like that (I didn't marry him). Those were crazy days!

    1. Dad’s hair was definitely of another era. It was tamed by the time I was born. Perhaps that was the work of my mother.

  2. Very sweet love story! (And Jimmy's Shlitz tee shirt sure took me back.)

    1. It’s one of my favorite photos of my parents. They could be modern day hipsters.

  3. Oh the memories. So sweet of your Mom to share their love story on your blog.

    1. I didn’t know the story of how they met. I’m glad to have it recorded for posterity.