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The Car Hop Store

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  Even though in the last few years I had found a sexual interest in all attractive girls there was one type that produced a romantic interest. It was always shoulder length dark brown hair, brown eyes, thin face with a V-shape chinline, slender and about five-foot-five. I now know that would be anyone that looked like the girl that in the future would become my wife. Somehow my brain was wired to recognize her.  
During the summers of 1963 and 1964 my best friend Jerry Kerr and I went to the Comanche A&W Drive-in located at the southeast corner of Lyndale and the south frontage road of I494. There is no frontage road there now. Each year it would open mid-April and close about the end of September, sometimes in October depending on the weather, and we were there almost every day inspecting car hops. And no, they did not wear roller skates because the entrance drive and parking lot for the drive-in were gravel. Jerry and I were there on April 24th 1965.
The first time I saw Renee walking toward my car to take my order my lifelong aversion to making romantic advances suddenly disappeared. I immediately wanted to ask her out but she was a complete stranger so I just bit my lip. After I had ordered she came back and when she brought the tray out to hang it on my window I did work up the nerve to ask her what hours she would be working. She said, weekdays she started at four pm, so each day I made sure she would be on when I went in. Evidently she had an attraction to me also because it was always her that would wait on me. She would take my order and I would let her leave but when she returned with my order I would keep her in conversation. I had her hooked in just a few visits and by the end of the second week she was fired for hanging around my car when she was supposed to be working. She came to me crying and told me she had been fired. As she left she placed in my hand a Comanche receipt on which she had already written her phone number UN6-8646. Back in that day all phone numbers had an "exchange" which was a word followed by a digit then the four digit phone number. Each city had its own exchange. It was dialed using the first two letters then the digits. That is why there were letters on the keypad. Richfield was Union, Bloomington was Tuxedo and Minneapolis had several. Anyway to get back to my story, the next Saturday I called Renee and asked if I could come over to her house to which she agreed. May eighth was a nice warm day and when I got there she was sitting in a reclining lawn chair using crayons in a coloring book. I sat on the foot of the recliner while I watched her. She was still a week away from turning sixteen. We made small talk about the weather and school. Then I made the bold move of telling her that I was going to marry her. She told me I was "crazy" and nonchalantly continued coloring. When she said that, I realized that it would sound crazy to her, even though somehow I knew it to be a fact. I thought to myself that I must control my mouth so I never mentioned it again and decided to let fate, over time, prove to her what I already knew. Renee told me her dad would never approve of a boy being with her. She said that he worked Wednesday and Thursday evenings so I would only be able to come those days but he often bowled on weekends so sometimes I could come then too. She didn't say he was an ogre but she made him sound that way. "He has a real low voice and he's loud and grouchy and doesn't like boys." The next time I went over was Wednesday evening. Renee was very excited for me to come over because on her 16th birthday the previous Sunday her dad had given her a 1965 Honda 50 motorcycle.
I met Renee's mom, Orpha, and she liked me right away.
For the next few weeks I would just hang out at her house usually watching TV. In the daytime Orpha would let me take Renee to A&W in the car. Then she let me take her to Harrison Park and push her on the swings. Then on June 24th I took her to Bush Lake. We walked up to the picnic area on top of the hill. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to walk down the east side of the hill. Stupid because the parking lot was on the west side but even more stupid because it was wooded with no path and more stupid yet because the hill was too steep to walk down so we fell down the hill. We both got abrasions and bruises. Renee ripped her bermuda pants and lost her glasses and one shoe. We spent some time looking for her glasses but could not find them because it was starting to get dark. So by the time we walked all the way around the hill back to the parking lot it was really dark. And then by the time I got Renee home it was really late so when I pulled into her driveway she said "don't come in" and jumped out of the car. Later, when I talked to Renee, she said Orpha was upset because if her dad found out what happened he would be really mad and I would not be able to see her again. For the next couple weeks in the hopes that Orpha's memory of our late date might fade I only took Renee out to Comanche. Then I asked Orpha if I could take Renee to the movies. She told me if I wanted to take Renee anywhere after dark I was going to have to ask her father, Albert. I decided I was going to have to face the music sooner or later if I was going to take our relationship to the next level so I asked Renee about what he did so I would know what to talk about. She said he worked at North Central Airlines as a boiler engineer. My dad was a boiler inspector but I knew that conversation wouldn't last long so I asked what he did before that. He had been a TV and radio repairman, an auto body repairman, an auto mechanic and a ham radio operator. I thought this is going to be easy. I wouldn't have to fake interest because I did have an interest in all of those fields and I was currently working as a mechanic at Ray's garage in Bloomington. So on a Monday evening in late June I called Renee to see if her dad was there and if it would be okay with him for me to meet him. It was, so I went over there to meet Albert. Renee was right about his demeanor. He had a real low voice, he talked very loud and was very cool to me for a while. I told him I was a mechanic and he told me about his years as a mechanic. He actually liked talking about it and I think he was happy to talk to someone that understood him. When I asked him about the ham radio all tensions left and as I showed a genuine interest he talked quite a while about that topic. After an hour or so, I had him figured out enough to know that it would be okay to call on his daughter at home but it would be a mistake for me to ask if I could take her out. She was only sixteen and with his generation courting was a ritual that did not allow for un-betrothed couples to be alone with each other un-chaperoned. By the time August came around I had been with her dad enough that when I asked him if I could take her out to the fair on Friday the 27th he warned me that it would be okay for me to be alone with Renee in a public place like the fair.  But it still necessitated us to be alone in the car on the trip there and back so the only reason he would grant it is because I had gained his trust so don't mess that up. Unless I did something insanely stupid like walk down a cliff it was pretty hard for me to mess up because Renee was quite a prude. In all the times we had been out she stayed firmly planted next to her door in the car. She wouldn't even let me hold her hand let alone kiss. I picked her up about 7am of the first day of the Minnesota State Fair in 1965. We walked all day, with me periodically trying to hold her hand. Each time she would wiggle her hand out of mine. I never asked her why and she never offered a reason. I just remained patient.
At the bottom the Grandstand ramp about 5pm my persistence paid off, I tried again and this time she held my hand. As far as I was concerned that sealed the deal and our life's grand adventure had started! We left the fair about 8pm and went to the Comanche A&W. As we sat there in my two door hardtop 1957 Chrysler Saratoga she slid over next to me. I put my right arm around her. On my right hand was my class ring and without saying anything she started to play with it. She slid it off my finger, looked at me with those beautiful brown eyes and I told her to keep it. We have been "going steady" ever since. I appreciate any comments. Email me at