On a chilly February evening halfway though my sophomore year, I dropped into The Rathskeller, the on-campus hangout. Alcohol was not served anywhere on campus, which didn’t affect me. I wasn’t a teetotaler, but seldom ever had more than a beer or two, and in Ohio it was only 3.2% alcohol until you turned 21.
After dancing with several young ladies, I spotted a gorgeous looking blond sitting with a couple friends, I wandered over and asked her to dance. Most girls would at least politely dance to a song or two. Then there was that awkward moment of “Now, what?” I admired the extroverted guys who had a natural gift for gab, and could make small talk with anyone. I much more enjoyed (and still do) deeper conversations with just one or two people than a large group setting.
This lovely young gal said her name was Jan Davis and she was from Pittsburgh. Jan was majoring in some area of business. She was charming, and I enjoyed chatting with her. I did ask for her phone number, though I can’t remember whether I walked her back to her dorm that night or not. She very nice, and I thought I’d probably ask her out sometime.
The next evening, I went to a movie with another young lady. The date had been set before I met Miss Davis. I do not even remember her name (really!). Nor do I remember the movie, but it was on campus in the large theater. Unbeknownst to me, Jan and her roommate were sitting a few rows behind us. I never saw them, but she certainly saw me!
I mean it wasn’t like we were engaged! I do think I called Jan and we had a couple dates, but I was still dating other young ladies, usually for movies or study dates. I was beginning to enjoy the fruits of my dancing skills, and becoming more at ease with young females. It wasn’t like I was looking a more serious commitment at that moment.
I think maybe Jan had a different plan. She certainly did get my attention. It was late February when I received a note in my campus mailbox, announcing that I had 13 pieces of mail being held at the post office. All were postage due. I hiked through the snow to retrieve my mail, totally puzzled about it all. I received a letter about every couple weeks from Mom and occasionally one from one of my high school friends.
The postal clerk requested 13 cents, a penny for each piece. I paid the fee and immediately opened the envelopes. What in the world was this all about?
My gifts were 13 different greeting cards — an array of Valentine and St. Patrick’s Day cards. All signed “Jan.” I thought it was quite amusing – and effective. I had to ask her out – to get my 13 cents back!
The romance blossomed and we were “an item” through the rest of the semester. At the end of one evening, we waited for the spring rain to stop so I could walk her back to her dorm. As we started our journey across campus, we quickly realized the sidewalk was covered with worms. I still have a poem I wrote about the ordeal, titled “Murder in the Rain.” I won’t share it all but it does include:
Small talk, a kiss.
Ah, the rain has ceased.
What ails ye, fair damsel?
Scrunch, crunch, squelch!
A screech and she jumps.
Worms on the sidewalk!
Hundreds are crawling.
Fortunately for Western Civilization, I chose not to pursue poetry as an occupation.
University rules required all girls to be in their dorms by 10:00 pm on weeknights, and by midnight on weekends. Also, displays of affection (i.e., kissing) were strictly forbidden anywhere in the dorms. So students usually said their goodnights outside. One evening it was raining, so we stepped into the foyer before our kiss. Jan was written up with a formal warning to mend her wicked ways. We adapted.
An Aside – Things had lightened up by the time we arrived at BG. Only five years earlier, BGSU couples were prohibited from holding hands while walking on campus, or kissing in front of the women’s dormitories after their dates. Females were not even allowed to ride in cars with men. Anyways, it wouldn’t have affected us much, as I didn’t have a car to drive until my junior year!