Dad, how did you meet Mom?
During my Freshman year at Oregon State, I was pledged at the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. My adjustment to fraternity life was poor – I resented hazing by upper-classmen, extra housework, and had difficulty relating to weekend keggers and parties. I requested assignment to a residence hall, and was assigned to Sackett, an older building on the West side of campus.
At Sackett, I met David Proebstel, a fellow electrical engineering student from Yamhill, Oregon. David grew up in Yamhill and attended Yamhill Christian Church. He invited me to join him on Sunday mornings for Bible Study at Suburban Christian Church in Philomath.
The Bible Study Group was an outreach program led by Mel Byers and his wife. Mel was a gifted story teller with a deep knowledge of bible history. We met in the Byers’ home, which barely contained the popular group.
During my Junior year, I returned to the Bible Study Group and noticed Linda Young, David’s former high school classmate from Yamhill. I liked her, because she was cute and funny. The college group held a retreat, and I found myself thinking how glad I was that she showed up. I remember her be-bopping across the hall in a broad red and white striped nylon shell with good rhythm and energy. I wasn’t up for dancing with her, but admired her outgoing nature and willingness to let herself express youthful exuberance.
Back in Corvallis, we met for pizza and I learned a bit more about her. Following high school, Linda attended Bassist Institute of Fashion in Portland. She also worked at Rhodes Department Store and collected outfits that were considerably nicer than other coeds in the Freshman class at OSU. I learned that she was not thrilled with the stodgy training in clothing and textiles from the Home Economics Department, and that she was thinking about moving to San Francisco for better prospects for a career in fashion and retailing.
I remember feeling chagrined, thinking that Linda was interesting and exciting, but not likely to be interested in hanging around OSU, nor interested in dating an engineer like me. I learned Linda’s home address in Yamhill and decided to write her a letter during my long Christmas break. I chose not to call because a phone conversation would have been difficult; I could not match her pace of conversation and uncovering interesting things to say. In my letter I suggested that I would enjoy seeing a movie together in January.
I searched for an occasion to serve as a date, and picked a science fiction movie. I think the movie was “2001, A Space Odyssey”, a classic film about interaction of space explorers with artificial intelligence built into their space ships, and humanity’s desire for exploration. I was probably trying to up the ante on her idea of moving to San Francisco to pursue a fashion career by revealing my interest in technology, computers, and the future. Fortunately, I had enough romantic sense to later invite her to “Dr. Zhivago” and “A Man and a Woman”, attempting to appeal to her romantic side.
Evidently the combination of letters, movies, and college courtship met with her approval. There was enough of a spark for us to marry by September of that same year!