When I left you last I had gone to work for Ford, Bacon and Davis in St. Joe. I spent most of my time in the field in my 1946 Jeep (making a profit at 8 cents per mile) trying to get farmers to sign right-of-way agreements authorizing the construction of a pipeline across their land. Not an easy task. Every time I went to the office above the Dime Store I would climb those stairs, always tipping my hat (felt fedora) to Elaine who invariably would smile in recognition and maybe give me a "Hi".
From January to June 1949 I repeated that routine (though not every day since I spent a lot of time in Illinois). I made no attempt to ask her out since: 1) At first I thought she was married, 2) I was naturally shy around good looking women, and 3) I was still somewhat wounded by her long ago rejection of me when I was a vulnerable teenager (I am sure you are thinking, "poor baby").
Well, there was this right-of-way agent by the name of Roy (he drove a Cadillac thus did not make out very well at 8 cents per mile) who decided to become the matchmaker between the two of us. He took me aside and told me that he had investigated and learned that: a) Elaine was not married, b) She had no steady boy friend thus presumably was available, and c) She would not refuse me if I asked for a date.
So this one June day while we were down for coffee Roy told me that the Chamber of Commerce was passing out free tickets for a cruise on Lake Michigan that next Saturday night. I decided that I should quit procastinating and use the free tickets as an excuse to ask for a date. Thus I headed up the stairs with a plan to proposition Fair Elaine.
I inquired and Elaine confirmed that there were indeed free tickets and would I like one? I said I would take two if she would go with me (smooth, eh?) To which she responded that would be nice but she had already invited a girlfriend (a "dog" who shall go nameless) and she couldn't disappoint her (to myself: "Oh crap! Not again!) so if she agreed to go with me could the girlfriend go along too?. Well, that wasn't my idea of a great first date but having gone this far I didn't want to back out so I agreed. What would you call it, a date and a half? Or half a date?
On the appointed evening (June 23 1949) I picked up Elaine in my freshly washed and shined 1949 Kaiser Traveler * and then picked up the girlfriend and off to the docks we go.
* Newly purchased from Uncle Bob Thayer
I don't remember much about what went on aboard th SS Roosevelt but Elaine said I ran off at the mouth a lot about driving my Jeep to Alaska (not so smooth). It was a lovely night as the boat took us out on Lake Michigan and eventually back to the dock. We never did shake the girlfriend.
Subsequently I asked her for a second date, and she agreed, which led to a year-and-a-half long courtship, mostly Saturday nights hopping from bar-to-bar drinking "7 & 7" (Seagram's 7 Crown whiskey in 7up) and listening to the Juke Box a lot. Our favorites were Vaughn Monroe singing "Lucky Old Sun" and Frankie Lane with "Mule Train".
Elaine has said that she didn't expect anything to come of our dating because I would soon be off to Alaska. Actually it was 34 years before I got there, then it was with Elaine to visit son Jim.
The Wisconsin River flows 430 miles across the state from Lac Vieux Desert in northern Wisconsin to its junction with the Mississippi River ar Wyalusing State Park in southwestern Wisconsin. Known as "the nation's hardest working river," it has many power dams and resevoirs, mainly on its upper and middle portions along the lower stretch with beautiful scenery and numerous islands.