“Well, will you or won’t you?” Not exactly a romantic proposal, but read on and then decide if this is not truly a real life Hollywood moment.
The time is 1946, he is a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She is a student at Mary Baldwin in Staunton. Her daddy is minister at the Methodist church in Farmville. She comes home almost every weekend because it’s where the action is. I’m in this story too. I am a tiny thing living with my grandparents while Mom and Dad work long hours in Richmond making ends meet as there is no child care of any worth or reasonable rate available.
It’s Halloween weekend, Martin comes to visit close relatives that live in Farmville. The dating set congregates at the local drug store. Soda fountain or booth, both hold equal attraction for this young crowd. Keese is there along with Mom and other friends. Jane, a New York city relative of Martin’s, who is more than certain that her big city experience far outdistances any small town take on life, decides that Martin needs to meet Keese.
She steers him to the drugstore where he is instantly smitten with married Mom. He unabashedly flirts. Mom knows her place, but is not above casual flirting and flattery. Keese takes an instant dislike to him. Jane isn’t as match maker savvy as she thinks , she’s wrong about this one.
After a time, part of the group goes to the record store to pick out some vinyls. In those days you could listen to a record before buying it. They take their choices to a friend’s bomb shelter her family built during recently ended WWII. Dancing commences and Martin gets a good eyeful of Keese’s legs and her ability to cut the rug better than most. He is impressed.
Later at home, Keese gets a call from Jane asking her if she will go out with Martin the next night. “Nope.” Keese is still peeved that he hit on Mom. Jane will not give up. She calls Martin to get the same answer. Back and forth Jane goes, she is not to be denied her match making. Finally Keese agrees.
The next night when Martin comes to the parsonage to pick Keese up, she is not quite ready. As she finishes up, she can hear Martin downstairs playing with me. Score points for Martin. When she comes down ready for her date, she finds Martin and myself down on the floor having a grand time. Score more points for Martin. Anyone that good with children cannot be all bad.
They continue to date throughout the fall, Martin taking the bus back and forth on weekends from Charlottesville to Farmville. One weekend there is a big dance on the campus of Longwood the local girls college. Everyone has a good time, a very good time. Martin proposes to Keese. As high on the sauce as they both are she realizes that time is needed and plays a commonsense card. “Ask me again tomorrow.”
The next day sees them going to church, having lunch, enjoying the balance of the day before Martin has to catch the bus back to school. There is no mention of the night before. Keese is not going to bring it up. And Martin seems to have forgotten that he asked Keese to marry him and her reply.
It’s time for the bus. Keese walks with Martin to the Greyhound bus station. They say goodbye. Martin gets on the waiting bus. The bus pulls aways. And then before it can leave the terminal it begins backing up. It backs into the spot it just vacated. Keese is dumbfounded. She is still waving goodbye.
The door opens. Martin emerges. He walks up to Keese grabs her by the shoulders and begins shaking her. “Well, will you or won’t you, damnit?”
The passengers and driver dare not breathe. Then, “Yes!” she beams. “Yes, yes I will!” The audience erupts in cheers and applause. Hollywood could not do it any better.
I am flower girl at their wedding and I still have the dress.
THE END (of the beginning)