Love Begins, Chapter One

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Love Begins, Chapter One



My family, The Blakleys, moved to Van Vleck, Texas in the Summer of 1966. My parents, Jim and Mary Blakley, were teachers. I was one of five children and the only girl.   I guess if you were going according to the pecking order, I was number two. I would be a Junior in High School in the Fall of 1966.

Frank had lived in Van Vleck, Texas and in Sugar Valley, a little community about three miles outside of Van Vleck, for all but a couple of years of his life. Frank was the son of Loren and Peggy Henderson. Frank was the oldest of three children and he had one brother and one sister. Although we were the same age and only thirty hours difference in our births, Frank would be a Senior in the Fall of 1966. Frank had attended a private kindergarten and then was allowed to skip the first grade in Van Vleck Elementary

Frank and I would have only one class together that school year and consisted of both Juniors and Seniors. The class happened to be a Chemistry class taught by, none other than, my mother. I sat at a long table with other Junior girls and Frank sat at a table with Senior boys. Thinking back now, I am not sure that was such a great ideal to have all of those guys at one table. Frank and his buddies’ table was to the right and a little to the rear of the table that I sat at with the other Junior girls. When my Mother’s back was turned from the class as she wrote on the blackboard, Frank would throw spit wads at me but since I knew he had a steady girlfriend, I would just ignore him.

One day as I got up to walk to the front of the class to ask my Mom a question, upon returning to my table, Frank told me that I had great legs. I did not even look up to acknowledge him as I sat down in my chair. What was he thinking? I remember thinking to myself that he had a girlfriend. Back in those days you just did not talk to other girl’s boyfriends. The strangest thing about him saying that to me is that I remember him saying it to me after all of these years. It is amazing how the little things stay in your mind.

The Fall, Winter, and Spring passed quickly of the 1966-1967 school year but other than sharing that class with each other, Frank and I would not date but in the Summer of 1967, Frank and his longtime girlfriend would go their separate ways.

In the Fall of 1967, I would be a Senior in High School and Frank would enter Wharton County Junior College as a Freshman.   My oldest brother, Jimmy, would also attend WCJC along with Frank and some of his friends. They would all carpool together to save gasoline. Frank would come to our house every morning of the weekdays to either pick Jimmy up or to leave his car and ride with Jimmy. It seemed like Frank was always at our house for breakfast on school days.

Frank and Jimmy had met in the Summer when Jimmy had gotten a job helping Frank and his Dad haul hay. Frank’s Dad owned hay trucks and for a second income, he would haul hay which gave Frank and his brother plus many others jobs in the Summer.

The Fall of my Senior year I was on the Annual Staff and my job was to take pictures during sporting events so I would be on the football field every Friday night. Frank and Jimmy were also on the football field running the down markers and chains for the coaches. Frank would constantly make remarks to me such as, “You missed a great picture.” or “Did I tell you, you have nice legs?” At the time I really just wanted to smack him with my camera but then when I would look at him, he had such an amazing smile with the biggest dimples I do believe I had ever see seen and I also knew that he did not have a girlfriend anymore which made me a lot more interested in him as a dateable guy. Funny how fast news travels in a small town when a guy or girl is free grabs for dating.

As the school year progressed, Frank and Jimmy became best friends and Frank was always at our house nearly seven days a week. When they were not in school, they were hanging out on Friday and Saturday nights together at our house, eating our food and getting ready to go to a dance somewhere to check out girls or maybe drink a little, make that a lot, of beer. They had another friend who was always with them who had graduated with Frank. I called the three of them, The Three Musketeers.

One Saturday after lunch, I was in the kitchen at my folk’s house washing dishes when I suddenly heard a voice right behind me, asking me if I was getting the dishes clean. When I turned around I saw Frank standing there smiling. I told him, of course, I was getting the dishes clean but if he thought he could do a better job to have at it. He just smiled and told me he thought I was doing an awesome job. There was a brief silence as he just stood there staring at me then he asked me if I would like to go out with him sometime if Jimmy and their other friend got a date. I looked at him for a moment studying his face trying to figure out just what he meant then I told him sure if your buddies get a date we will go out sometime. Frank walked back into the den where my brother and his other buddy were hanging out. The den was only divided from the kitchen by a bar which had stools around it for eating or just sitting and visiting. The telephone hung on the wall above the counter of the bar.

I finished the dishes and was headed to my room when the phone rang. I stopped to answer the phone and it was a male friend of mine from High school asking me for a date to the drive-in that evening. I told him it sounded like fun and he told me he would pick me up about 7:00 that evening. I hung up the phone and started walking through the den towards the hall which led to my bedroom but as I was passing The Three Musketeers, they started to harass me, telling me that Frank had asked me out first and then I had accepted a date with someone else. I tried to defend myself by explaining that Frank did not ask me out that very night but it was to no avail. They were in true harassment mode.

I finally just left the room laughing knowing they were not about to stop, plus I had to shower, wash my hair, roll it on rollers and then dry it. I showered, got dressed and then headed to my room to roll my hair then dry it under the hair dryer when here they came. They stood there watching me roll my hair, telling me how badly I had hurt Frank’s feelings and what a terrible person I was. I just laughed and kept rolling my hair knowing I could not wait to get under that hair dryer so I could not hear them anymore.

Finally, they exited my room and I quickly got up from my dressing tabled and locked the bedroom door. When my hair was dry, I put on my makeup, took out the rollers and brushed my hair.   I waited in my room until it was time for my friend to arrive then ran quickly to the front door and out to his car, jumped in and told him to drive. I had escaped The Three Musketeers.

My date and I drove to Bay City, Texas, a town about three miles from Van Vleck, purchased a soft drink at Cains drive-in and then drove to the Showboat Drive-In movie which was about halfway between Bay City and Van Vleck. We drove around inside until we found a good place to park the car then removed the speaker from its’ pole and my date placed it on his window which he had rolled halfway down. We sat there talking, drinking our soft drinks and waiting for it to get dark enough, so the movie could begin. Suddenly, I noticed a car driving slowly through the road in front of the aisle we were parked on and without a doubt, I realized it was The Three Musketeers. I immediately knew this was not going to be good! They drove past us and then drove down the road behind us.

The Three Musketeers pulled in the aisle right behind us, started flashing the lights of my brother’s car, yelling out of the windows and then they decided to get out of their car and come to the windows of the car we were in knocking on the glass. They were obviously very drunk. I told my friend that I thought it would be best if we just left and he took me home. I could see by the look on his face that he thought that was a great ideal. He tossed the speaker out of the window, started the car and off we drove out of the drive-in. When we got to my house, I told him ‘thank you’ and jumped out of the car telling him to drive quickly away from my house then I ran into the house.

My Dad was sitting on the couch in the den when I entered the house  through the garage which had a door that opened near the bar and which led into the den. The garage door opened right before the bar on the den-side. Dad looked up from the show he was watching on television and told me that I was home really early from my date and I told him that the movie was not really very good then I headed down the hall to my bedroom. I stopped for a moment in the hallway when I suddenly heard a car screeching to a halt in our driveway. I knew immediately who it was and how drunk they were. So, I just walked right on into my room, sat down at my dressing table, started brushing my hair and waited for the fireworks to begin!

I heard Frank and Jimmy enter the house through the garage door laughing loudly and definitely still quite drunk. From my room, I could hear Dad ask them if they had been drinking. Frank just laughed loudly as Jimmy told Dad that they had not.

I could hear Dad and Jimmy getting into a serious discussion as I looked up and saw Frank entering my room from the hall. Frank plopped down on my three-quarters bed, which had wooden slats to hold up the boxed springs and the mattress, then Frank, the mattress, and boxed springs went crashing to the ground.

Frank acted like nothing had happened at all while he was laughing loudly telling me that, “They were drunk as skunks and that Jimmy was trying to tell my Dad that they had not been drinking!”

I was mortified and told Frank that he needed to get out of my room before my Dad caught him in there. Frank got up from the bed but as he was leaving the room, he told me that I was his girl, that nobody could date me but he and we were going out the next night. I told him sure and to please leave my room! I knew that if my Dad caught him in my room Frank would be a ‘dead’ date. I really believed the next day he would not remember our entire conversation but something about that smiling drunk face with those incredible dimples made me hope that he would remember.

The next morning Frank called and apologized for his behavior the previous evening then asked me if I would consider going out with him that night. I told him that I would but we would have to go to MYF which was Methodist Youth Fellowship and then to church afterward. Frank humbly agreed to my request and he told me he would pick me up at 5:45 p.m. I was really excited about seeing him again. Something about Frank just made my heart flutter like never before. That smile, those dimples, the sound of his voice and the way he looked at me as if I was the most beautiful girl in the world. I would have to guard my heart when I was around him but did I really want to.

Frank arrived right on time to pick me up and we had also made plans to double date with my brother and my best girlfriend after church. I had told my girlfriend about what had happened the night before at church that morning, so she and I came up with a “get you back” plan. We were electing new officers at MYF, so we had decided to put Frank in for president and Jimmy in for vice-president. We did and because we had let all other MYF members in on our plan, they were elected. Frank looked at me when they won and he just winked at me to let me know he knew what I had been up to.

After MYF and church were over, we all piled into Jimmy’s car and drove to Bay City with Frank and me in the backseat and Jimmy and my girlfriend in the front seat. We were driving through town making the drag down the main street when Frank asked Jimmy if he knew what their other buddy, the third Musketeer, was doing.

Jimmy told him “No, he did not.”

Frank thought we should drive by their buddy’s Uncle’s house and see, so, of course, we did. Jimmy stopped the car when we got there then he and Frank got out of the car and went inside.   They told us that they would just be gone a minute.

Fifteen minutes passed but they had not come back, so I looked in the front seat and saw that the keys were still in the ignition. I told my girlfriend that we were going for a drive then I got out of the car, opened the driver’s door and got in then started the car and off we drove. They really should not have left the keys in the car! I drove us to a hangout place on the main street of town called Cains. It was a drive-in where you could get food and drinks with a carhop named Mary. We ordered two Cherry Dr. Peppers which came with a little plastic animal on the side of the cups. We sat there until fifteen minutes before we were supposed to be home then drove back and picked up the two Musketeers we had abandoned. Jimmy and Frank got in the car but we had decided not to talk to them.

Halfway to Van Vleck, Frank asked me if I was upset with him then pulled me close to him but before I could answer, he kissed me. Oh my gosh, I knew immediately I was ‘hook, line, and sinker’ in love with him. My heart was pounding, I couldn’t breathe much less think. I looked at Frank and he smiled which did not help but increased what I was feeling. How could I be in love with Frank after just one kiss?

Thank goodness we were finally pulling up to the parking lot of the church where Frank’s car was. Frank and I got out of Jimmy’s car and into Frank’s car then drove to my house. Frank and I didn’t talk just sat there driving in silence. When we got to my house, Frank walked me to the door. When we reached the front door I turned to tell him goodbye but Frank took me in his arms and kissed me again he then told me that he was in love with me and I knew that it was true. I told him that I was in love with him too. There really was not any doubt that we were in love and we both knew it.

Frank turned to leave but turned back and told me, “Nancy, I am going to marry you”

I replied to him, “I know Frank”.

I watched him get into his car and drive off wondering, What the heck just happened? From that night on, I was the fourth Musketeer, Frank and I were inseparable and we went everywhere together.


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