It was in the early months of 1962 that Orville Jackson, a fellow college student employee of The Tallahassee Democrat, pointed to one of the FSU Flambeau proofreaders at the other end of the newsroom and observed, “That Mary Grossenbacher is a pretty girl.”
“Yeah, she is,” I replied.
Orville and I had a couple of things in common. In addition to working at The Tallahassee Democrat while in college (I was working full-time by then) (1) we both admired the pretty proofreaders from the FSU newspaper, which was produced at The Democrat, and (2) neither of us was what you would call lucky in love.
In due time, that would change.
“I think I’ll ask her for a date,” I told Orville. We shared dismal luck at such things.
Back in those days, colleges had phone books, and I called Mary at her dormitory to ask her out the coming weekend. She declined, saying she was going to the Florida State Fair with her roommate.
“The ‘plans with the roommate’ story,” I told Orville. We had heard it before. What we lacked in romantic success we made up for in nurturing friendships between pretty girls and their roommates.
I’m not sure what prompted me to try again a few weeks later, but I did, and I managed to pick a weekend when Mary and her roomie had no plans.
Little by little, my luck improved, and before long I was dating five girls who were Flambeau proofreaders, Mary among them.
This development as a proofroom romantic may have helped my love life, but it kept me out of the room in which the FSU Flambeau proofreaders worked. While none of the relationships were all that serious, the venue was not conducive to discussing the previous weekend’s date with one (or sometimes two) of my girlfriends in the presence of the others.
I wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box, but I at least understood that much.
When you are beginning to date a new girl in college, the most common conversation starters are “What is your major?” and “Where are you from?”
After the third time of hearing “I’m still majoring in physics and I’m still from Apopka,” I made surreptitious notes in the little black book I carried for such purposes.
Academically, Mary was not my equal. My academic equal would have been majoring in underwater basket-weaving and minoring in soda shop.
On Saturday, June 2, I graduated, stayed out most of the night, and upon awakening around mid-day Sunday, decided to head home and go to work at The Polk County Democrat the following day. I had never been unemployed, and I decided to keep the string going.
In seven weeks and a few days, I would enter the active Army for two years, as required by the draft law of that era, and I decided to make a few bucks at the family business until then and enjoy whatever the social life presented itself.
One Sunday, when I returned from a Florida Press Association seminar, Dad told me that a girl named Mary had called from the Bartow bus station to say hello. She had been visiting a former college roommate in Tampa, and had a brief stop in Bartow.
I decided to give her a call and ask her for a date.
Among other things, I had to find out where Apopka was.
Folks, don’t ask me why — you who have experienced the same phenomenon will understand — but after two or three trips to Apopka, I was backside over elbows (it used to be called head over heels) in love.
I was headed off to the Army, and she was headed back to FSU to pursue her major in … um … oh yes … physics.
I told her not to make any long term plans after graduation, because I had plans for her.
On June 22, 1963, a few weeks after she graduated — 50 years ago today — we were married.
(S. L. Frisbie is retired. He has long said that any man with half the brains he was born with can marry above himself. He offers himself as Exhibit A.)