Lodians share their sweet, romantic and nerve-wracking stories of their first dates, proving young love is wonderful and stressful at any age.
Munsons find love at fraternity party
Russ and Kathryn Munson have created a romantic Lodi Valentines destination with their hotel and spa, Wine & Roses, but their own romance began at a college fraternity party in 1967.
Russ and Kathryn graduated together from Lodi High School in 1965 and remained friends as they studied at San Jose State University.
On a Friday night, Russ’ fraternity was having a party. The girl who was supposed to be his date for the evening couldn’t make it, so Kathryn played along and joined him for the festivities.
On that date, Kathryn Munson says, they learned they were meant to be together. They have been married 42 years.
Spilled soda can be awkward on a date
My first date with my husband, Deane, was in 1960, the year we both graduated from high school. He took me to see the four-hour long movie, “Exodus.”
During intermission he bought me a soda. In those day, lids hadn’t been invented yet. During a highly suspenseful scene, an actor came bursting through a door and startled me so much that some of my soda spilled onto Deane’s lap.
I was so eager to fix the mess with my napkin that I didn’t realize in the dark how intimate I was becoming with the inside of his left thigh. All I remember is thinking how grateful I was that he couldn’t see my very red face!
— Submitted by Marcia Savage
Saying good night, but never goodbye
The night I met my husband was a very special night.
It was on a Tuesday, March 11,1997. Ms. M’s was having their first fashion show at Legend’s. Mary was a friend and I just had to go. The place was packed. I sat at the bar, two stools from the wall. Along came a man who asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said no, he sat and that was the beginning.
We talked a lot and and almost forgot about the fashion show.
We received tickets for a drawing and I won first prize, a new dress. We danced later, then said goodnight. We knew it was not goodbye.
That was almost 14 years ago. We married on March 29, 2008.
We now celebrate our two anniversaries: March 11 and March 29.
— Submitted by Elaine Fowler
First comes a text, then love
Larry Sauseda and Katherina Mendoza knew each other as teenagers. However, they went their separate ways as adults.
After Katherina moved from Hawaii to Lodi, she ran into Larry’s daughter. With the help of his grandchildren, Larry learned to text Katherina.
Though they had been texting, he was still too nervous to invite her to a crab feed. He thought he’d be a little creative, though, and sent a picture of himself eating a large bowl of menudo when he asked her to the crab feed.
She responded, saying she really did want to go but might not be back in time from a work function.
“It really floored me,” Sauseda said.
However, he was broken- hearted when he still hadn’t heard from her on the day of the crab feed. But hours before the event, she called to say she was back in town and wanted to know if he was still interested in going out with her.
“‘Are you kidding me?’ I said, ‘There’s nothing else I want to do,’” Sauseda said.
They talked the entire night, even as friends at their table continued to fill his glass with beer. Nervously, he said he kept drinking until he was too tipsy to drive home.
Katherina ended up driving Larry home and kept his truck until morning.
They are now married and have a home in Acampo.
Look for love everywhere — even at work
I was working as secretary at a country club when I met George. We shook hands, and I noted his tight grip and comfortable handshake.
One day, George handed me a yellow piece of paper with the question, “Can I have your phone number?”
Without a second though, I wrote down my number and handed it back to him. That night, he called and asked me on a date.
When I answered the door for our date, I was confused. I was expecting George from the club. I didn’t recognize the person standing on my doorstep.
This guy had his hair combed straight down in front in a long widow’s peak, lots of gold jewelry and smelled to high heaven with hideous cologne. “Oh, well,” I thought, “Columbus took a chance.”
At the restaurant, we enjoyed great conversation. He admitted he ate Red Lobster, where we were dining, frequently with his aunts, and afterward they would go to Marie Callendar’s for pie.
My response was, “I like pie!” George threw his head back, laughed a hearty laugh, and after dinner we, too, went for pie and coffee.
We continued to date, for a couple months. He toned down the cologne and de-jewelerized himself. Within four months George presented me with a diamond ring.
Seven years later, on Dec. 18, 2009, we got married. The prince I’d been waiting for had finally appeared — it took 50 years! George is 75, I am 64 and now we have a wonderful end to a delightful first date.
— Submitted by: Bernadine Chapman-Cruz
50 years, 1 war, 2 marriages couldn’t keep them apart
People sometimes ask how I got my name, Shirley Bowers-Baker. In 1950, I was 16, attending Lodi High School. Like a lot of girls my age, I really loved the idea of being in love. I started dating Kenney Baker who was an older man, all of 19. We were a real item and adored each other. We had some great times running around Lodi, seeing movies at the Lodi Theater, like “Some Like it Hot” and “Rear Window.” Often we would get a hamburger and cherry Coke after a movie at Billy’s drive-in or hangout with our friends at the Richmaid Creamery.
Like most teenagers, we were oblivious to what was going on in the world, we only had eyes for each other. In 1950, America was at war with Korea and young men were being drafted to serve. Kenny decided to enlist in the Air Force. It was very sad for us to part. I feared I’d never see him again.
Life continued, as it tends to do. I fell in love and married another young man from Stockton, who was also named Kenny. While Ken worked as a deputy Sheriff and I as a cake decorator, we raised our three Bowers boys. My 48-year marriage to Ken Bowers ended when he passed in 2001.
A dear old friend of mine, Delores, called me one day and said, “Let’s go to the 50-year-class reunion for Lodi High.” I didn’t really want to. Being widowed for only a year, I felt uncomfortable. But Delores persisted.
At the reunion, I ran into Doyle Baker, Kenney Baker’s brother and found out that Kenney was alive and well, living in Lodi and had also lost his wife earlier. It was suggested that I give Kenny a call, though I asked Doyle not to tell Kenney because I wanted to surprise him.
A week later, I just had to call Kenney and find out if he remembered me. I kept him guessing for a few minutes and surprised him by reminding him that I am Shirley Smith. I asked him if he remembered me.
“I had a hard time trying to forget you,” he said.
I melted. It had been 50 years since we’d last spoken.
We spoke for a while, and I felt just like a teenager again. He asked me out and it was as though we had never parted. We picked up right where we’d left off.
It wasn’t hard to fall back in love with my sweetheart Kenney Baker. He makes me very happy, and we were married on Valentine’s Day in 2004. We still feel like teenagers, traipsing around Lodi and creating new memories.
— Submitted by Shirley Bowers-Baker
“It Began on a Blind Date”
A poem by Marilyn Dawe
It began on a blind date on Friday night
Weather warm and still and the moon in full sight
He was tall and thin and had lots of blonde hair
I was short with brown eyes and complexion fair
He drove a cute and classy ‘64 Covair
With jet black upholstery without a tear
We headed straight to A&W
Had cheeseburgers and fries like most folks do
He was kind and funny and made me laugh
I was shy and reserved, but the time went so fast
He drove me home and we talked until 2
Then my Mom flashed the porch light, I got the clue
After that first date we met each day
After after three long years my Dad gave me away
Two kids and four grandkids came along as time passed
And happily retirement came at last
It’s been 46 years now and our lives oh so great
And it all started out on a Friday blind date
Marilyn Dawe lives in Lodi with her husband, Tom.