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Memorable first dates

The following stories were submitted by some of our readers. Different stories are included in each of our five editions. Don’t miss Steve Maanum’s story on the front page on the start of his relationship with his wife. To read all the submitted stories, visit Next month we are looking for stories about inspirational teachers. See information in the box below. Thanks to all those who have contributed!

A comfortable lunch date

By Gay (Derby) Ekberg of Herman

Returning home (rural Herman) after graduating from Moorhead State College in 1971, I decided to spend one last summer in Herman before I would be gone forever for a career in a city.

When our Methodist Pastor Osborn had a heart attack, Gordon Ekberg was asked to fill the pulpit over the summer. Thus, I heard Gordon’s sermons every Sunday and wished to meet him but was never introduced.

Gay and Gordon Ekberg of Herman early in their relationship. Contributed photo

At summer’s end I left for Aitkin to be the school’s speech therapist. Gordon phoned before Thanksgiving to ask me out! We went to the movie “Patton” in Alexandria, arriving at intermission because it was a long movie. Gordon was slightly embarrassed about that and then more so because I’d already seen the movie at the Herman Theatre that summer. Afterwards, we ate at the Fireside which had fragrantly grilled burgers with fries. Normally, I would decline lunch with a date, not feeling that comfortable. With Gordon, feeling right at home, I enjoyed both visiting and eating. Gordon mostly talked about two friends: concessionaire “Muggs Townsend” and “James Lombard,” director of concerts/lectures for Northrop Auditorium. I would have to get to know Gordon later!

Although, I had learned a lot about Gordon through his sermons and was thrilled to get his phone call. We married one year later; I was back to Herman.

Denise and Steve Iverson of Darwin connected through an online dating app. Contributed photo

A magical night

By Denise Iverson of Darwin

After 37 years of marriage, his wife left. After 32 years of marriage, my husband asked for a divorce.

We connected on the dating app “Our Time” for people over 50 years old. After emailing for awhile, we met at a restaurant during the week. When I walked in he was standing at the bar, facing the door. We were too nervous or excited to eat. I found out he hadn’t drank for years. (A great bonus for me.) We went driving around for five hours, talking the whole time. Whenever we came to a “T” in the road he’d say right or left and then “right is back to town” so he chose left every time. “I’ll ask you for permission before I kiss you,” he said. The night was absolutely magical!

Lucky Me

By Don Matheson of Milaca

I found my spouse at an ice skating party, and that would not have been so unusual, except for some very special circumstances that worked out to be by lucky day.

Let me give you a little background.

In our rural church I attended, we had a pastor that would come and provide the evening service each Sunday. This pastor had a daughter about my age that would come with her father when he came to do the services. The pastor’s daughter had a friend who came with her almost every Sunday. I liked her looks and smiled at her across the aisle of the church. I hoped to get better acquainted.

Well to make a long story short, I heard by the grapevine that she was going to be at a ice skating party sponsored by the youth group of her church. It was my chance to do more than smile at her, so along with a buddy of mine, we went to this party. During the course of the evening we got better acquainted and I asked if I could take her home. She readily accepted my invitation. I was on cloud nine and we got along famously - she even laughed at my dumb jokes!

The reason that I was such a lucky man was something that I didn’t know about till some time later. She had been asked by another young man to accompany her for the evening, but he didn’t show up. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take her home! Lucky me!

That started a courtship of about 1 ½ years, and ended in a marriage that has lasted almost 68 years. And all through the years I keep thinking, Lucky Me!

A surprise honeymoon

By Eileen Bayer of Morris

The week before our wedding, my parents came to my St. Cloud apartment to bring me home to Belgrade. I didn’t have a car, unlike today, when almost everyone has a car. As we were putting my luggage and wedding dress in dad’s car, my roommate, Bernadette, suggested that I leave the honeymoon luggage for my fiance Stan to pick up later. That sounded like a good idea because my wedding dress took up most of the back seat.

That week, we prepared the dinner and decorated for the wedding reception. On May 29, 1971, our wedding took place.

At our reception, while I was dancing with our best man, Pat, he asked me if I thought we’d get to Las Vegas. I thought that was odd and said, “Someday, why?” Then Pat said, “Let’s go talk to your husband.” Stan looked at Pat and said, “You didn’t!” Yep, to my surprise, Stan made arrangements for a surprise Las Vegas honeymoon. Oh no! I packed for the North Shore, with t-shirts and shorts. Then I learned that my roommate was in on the secret. That’s why she suggested leaving my luggage for Stan. She had repacked it with dress clothes for Las Vegas. They couldn’t have done a better job of keeping a good secret. Good memories of a surprising, fun honeymoon.

We continue to travel and cruise through the years. In 2021, we’ll celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Maybe he’ll surprise me again! Well... maybe.

Mr. Right

By Donna Feigum of Glenwood

I was attending college in Morris where I met Mary, a friend from Starbuck. Her boyfriend set me up on many blind dates that year, but not none of them seemed to be “Mr. Right!” I went home with Mary one weekend. When her boyfriend came to pick us up for a dance at Lakeside Ballroom, he informed me that he had arranged yet another blind date who was meeting us at a dance.

Upon meeting Marvin I decided this one might not be Mr. Right either. Marvin was farming at the time, so he didn’t have much time for dating. Summer came and I went home. We didn’t see each other until fall when Marv started college at Morris. I found it hard to avoid him on campus because it was a small school. If I saw him coming, I quickly walked the other way. You’ve heard of “Love at first sight -- well it was not that!” After all, I was there for an education, not a guy!

Marv must have seen something in our relationship that I had not. He pursued me until I realized he was “Mr. Right.” We dated through my sophomore year and I received an engagement ring the day I left that summer. We were engaged my junior year. The next summer, June 21, we were married. It was the longest day of the year and a perfect wedding.

“Should I call you Dad or Wayne?”

By Sharon Hagford of Sacred Heart

I was a single mother raising 4 children (ages 6-16) for many years, besides working two jobs and attending grad school to earn my Master’s degree. So I didn’t have time for dating.

One spring, three neighbor women and I decided to join a mixed bowling league. I became acquainted with one gentleman, and we would talk during league play. Near the end of the season, he invited me to see a movie, and my friends all encouraged me to go. So we made a date for the following Friday evening.

Friday came and I was putting on a bit of makeup, when my date arrived a bit early. My 6 year old ran to the door to let him in. As she opened the door, I heard her ask him “Well, what should I call you, Dad or Wayne?” I was mortified, but we laughed about it on the way to the movie. We went to see ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. Since both of us were tired, we both fell asleep halfway through the show. I figured that was the end of that.

It wasn’t. He was persistent, and six months later we were engaged. We have now been married for more than 44 years and still laugh about our first date.

‘I’m everything you’re looking for’

By Marty Meyer-Gad of Mankato

The bubble of infatuation floats many to marriage; the bubble bursts in divorce. In 1981, when I started my serious husband hunt, I refused to follow that pattern. Computer dating, in its infancy, found no match. Video dating might have worked if I had checked on more potential matches. Our Chicago country western station, WMAQ, provided my break. In one minute segments, individuals presented themselves and their search criteria. On Oct. 4, 1982, using an alias, I described myself and who I was looking for. That day, 55 men called, and I jotted down my impressions of each one. Selecting the top five I found: two were married and three were unappealing. I grudgingly gave up going farther down the list.

One night, as I was falling asleep, the phone rang.

One of the 50 rejects called, asking, “Why haven’t you called me back?”

As I walked to my office, I replied, “Why should I?”

“I’m everything you’re looking for.”

By that time I had found his card, and said, “You’re a pessimist.”

“No, I’m not. I’m a realist.”

We made plans for breakfast the next morning. My head identified a suitable match. I explained I was searching for a husband, and if he decided he didn’t want to marry me, he should tell me so I could move on.

As we dated, my head’s approval increased and my heart eased into loving him. We’ve been married 37 years. He’s more than everything I was looking for.

Too much of a good thing!

By Tom Maloney of Mankato

I had dated my future wife for a few months when she invited me to her mother’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. Having only one brother, I was a little intimidated going to a dinner where most of my future wife’s 12 brothers and sisters and their families were going to be gathering. I decided that my safest approach would be to focus on smiling and eating.

All went well during the introductions, etc., where I smiled and nodded my head a lot. Next came the meal, where I sat at the very large “adult table” and the big platters of food were passed around. Always having a good appetite, I took some of everything including two large spoons of stuffing, my favorite Thanksgiving food.

I put the first fork full of stuffing my mouth and... it tasted BAD! Those two mounds of gray covered stuffing now looked huge as looked down at them. They looked like stuffing was supposed to look, but they gave off a different aroma that was similar to the taste I had in my mouth, neither one of which was good. I knew I had to eat every last crumb of that stuffing because I did not want to hurt anybody’s feelings. I watched the other people eat some of it without a negative response so I knew it was just me. I managed to eat it all by including some of every other food on my plate with each fork full. I sure was happy to get to the pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

As soon as we left the house later in the afternoon I asked my future wife what in the world her mother put in the stuffing. She mentioned all the familiar ingredients up until she said OYSTERS. I had never swallowed an oyster on purpose before nor have I since.

Life lesson learned -- If you aren’t eating at home, take small servings the first time the food is passed around the table!

First date

By Doug Bengtson of Wood Lake

How was my first date? Let me count the ways.

Although I don’t remember my first date with my wife, I do remember having a great deal of dates with my wife. In fact, I am still dating her, even though we have been married for 46 years. I think it may have been the excitement in her eyes and the way she liked doing things. However, I must admit that sparkle has not left her. She is my best friend. All my dates with her have been special and meaningful. We try to make every date as memorable as possible, and I think we have.

A special date that sticks out the most happened shortly after we moved to Granite Falls. We had two girls, and the neighbor came over and babysat them while we went down to the local restaurant and had a piece of pie. It was a little quiet time for both of us and we enjoyed it. I often tell her she is my favorite wife, no wait, my only wife... then we both laugh. I guess we just have too much fun together. So you see, naming a first date is very hard when they are all first dates.

The crew, pictured in 2009 includes (left to right), Roger and Mary Kruger, Roger and Nancy Pederson, Carroll and Mary Suckstorff and Marvin and Donna Feigum. Contributed photo

‘Luck of the draw’

By Donna Feigum of Glenwood

Some people really have good luck when it comes to love, but when it comes to setting up blind dates, it can really put a stain on friendships.

Carroll and Mary were dating and we all knew it was heading down the church aisle one day soon. As friends, we had no idea how these two would affect all of us. Carroll had lots of friends from Glenwood who were also looking for a “girl like Mary,” so he began arranging blind dates for them with Mary’s friends. Marv dated Donna; Roger dated Nancy (Donna’s roommate); Dale (Roger’s neighbor) dated Judy, another friend. Mary, Donna, Nancy and another Mary lived together while attending college. Each would have to give a thumbs up for each to have another date.

Carroll and Mary married in December 1969. The September before the other Mary married Roger, “stranger” not from Glenwood. The next June, I married Marv. Nancy and Roger married the next year followed by Judy and Dale two months later.

All remained happily married for many years.

We all took our vows seriously... To have and to hold from this day forward; to love and to cherish, to comfort and honor, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others... ‘til death do us part.

Judy died suddenly in 1996. Dale died in 2009. Marv died in 2010.

Four out of the five couples lived in the Glenwood area, visiting each other often. Carroll really knew what he was doing when he started his “dating service.”

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