We were fifteen and sophomores in High School. While there were a few “couples” most of my friends began dating in groups. My friend, Linda Hampton, had moved to Ceres. She lived on a street where two of the Ceres High boys lived. Linda and I and those two boys double-dated several times. We mostly went to movies and the A&W drive in for treats.
Linda dated Paul Caruso and I dated Doug Heim. Paul and Doug were good friends. We had a lot of fun together. Unfortunately the only thing I remember about those dates is Doug had a little “gizmo” on his dashboard shaped like a torpedo that would automatically dim his headlights if there was an oncoming car with lights on after dark.
I had several girlfriends who attended the Turlock First Baptist Church. Sometimes one of my friends, Jean Leach, would come pick me up and take me to the BYF meetings on Sunday nights. I played the organ at my church in Hughson so I never got to miss Sunday morning service.
BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship) was fun. One of the leaders was Wally Sanford. He was a good Bible teacher and a great youth leader. He could take a joke when the kids played them on him and he could joke well too. The Turlock church had Turlock kids so BYF turned out to be a place to meet new kids my age.
The first week of January a boy named Ron Chandler asked me on a date. Mom was good friends with Liane Beauchamp. Liane went to First Baptist in Turlock. I didn’t know it but mom called Liane to check up on Ron to see if he was a “nice” boy. Liane gave him the okay. We went bowling at Divine Gardens in Turlock the following Friday night. This was my first time on a date that wasn’t a double-date. I was more than a little excited and more than a little nervous!
I learned a lot that night. The first thing I learned was boys don’t like their dates to win at bowling! I won the first game. I was having fun but a friend of Ron’s who was bowling a couple lanes away made a comment when he saw the scores and I could tell from Ron’s reply he was less than impressed. Being the dutiful date I let him win the next two games. Bowling is certainly a game I couldn’t fake being good at but I could easily make sure I didn’t hit too many pins!
After bowling we went to the old Turlock A&W Drive In. I remember Ron ordering a Root Beer for me. Then he rattled off something like a Root Beer add vanilla, add cream, double scoop of chocolate float. He looked at me when he was ordering and I’m sure it was to see if I was impressed. I wasn’t. It sounded ridiculous and looked even worse when it arrived!
When we got back to my house I expected Ron to turn the car off and walk me to the door like Doug had always done. He didn’t. He turned the car off and we sat in the drive-way for about half an hour. I didn’t know him so I didn’t know what to talk about and he didn’t know me so he didn’t know what to talk about. After what I thought was an uncomfortable amount of time he got out his door, went to my side of the car, and opened the door for me.
The step up to our back door was about fourteen inches high. It was a slab of cement probably about 5 foot across. I was close to the door and Ron was close to the edge of the step. I felt uncomfortable. Ron moved close to me for a kiss, I gently placed my hands on his chest, gave a gentle push, and down he went. He fell off the step and landed on his butt on the sidewalk!
I think we were both embarrassed. Ron was embarrassed because I’d refused to kiss him and he’d fallen. I was embarrassed he thought he should get a kiss! He stood up red faced and said, “I can’t believe I am going to have to tell everyone I didn’t even get a kiss.” I had the screen door opened so I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and pulled it shut. I thanked him for the fun time we’d had. I didn’t think he would call again and I hoped he wouldn’t.
The next time Larry saw Ron he asked how our date went and Ron told Larry I was a cold fish!