First-grade love leads to "happily ever after"
[The Republican Thursday, June 29, 2006]
By Ed Orzechowski

Everyone is amazed when I tell them I met my wife in first grade. One morning when kindly Miss O'Rourke asked all us kids what we had for breakfast as part of her health lesson, a cute little girl named Gail said her father had made fried spaghetti. How can that not get your attention?

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and the seed of a storybook romance had been planted. Smitten by fried spaghetti.

I didn't know why, but later in fourth grade I invited that cute little girl to my birthday party. Amazingly, she came. The only girl.

I still didn't know why, but by sixth grade I had taken to following her home from school on my bike. She hated that.

In junior high I knuckled down, forgot about girls for a while, and just enjoyed slugging my friends and getting slugged back.

But then in high school something happened to girls. They were morphing into wondrous new attention-getting shapes. The cute little fried spaghetti eater was now on the JV cheering squad at Hamp High, performing cute little routines before my very adolescent male eyes right there on the NHS basketball court.

On top of that, I had begun buying 45s, and listening to guys like the Everly Brothers sing "Oh, What a Feeling." Now I knew why. I just didn't know how.


Now, in 1962 only President Kennedy rode in a limo. So I shined up my father's wheels and whisked my Cinderella off to the NHS gym, which had been magically transformed by the prom committee with crepe paper and a little arched bridge over a fake river. Moon River.

Luckily, just days before the big event, a few of the other girls in our class had done their best to teach my nerdy friends and me how to "dance." So I gingerly pushed my prom queen through the night, the red carnation on the lapel of my white tux pressed up against that pink and white gown with the built-in body armor brassiere.

When the Mancini magic was over, I splurged on club sandwiches for two at The Log Cabin -- on top of Mt. Tom and on top of the world -- then drove my princess home. I pulled my chariot up to the door and, instead of a kiss goodnight, this amorous future English major unloaded the hot date line of all time: "Well, I guess I have to go home and read Moby Dick." Smooth. Like an emery board.

Nonetheless, that would be the first date of a five-year courtship.

Throughout our senior year we made googly eyes in U.S. History while Mr. Southard droned on about the intricacies of our system of checks and balances.

From high school, we both went to UMass, where, except for a the times when she "needed to see other guys, just to be sure" (one of them just happened to own a Corvette), we continued to date. And my sleek black '57 4-door Ford Custom -- a real babe magnet -- trumped that Vette.

Ah, those simmering scenes of dozens of hormone-crazed college kids exchanging long, groping, goodnight kisses outside Mary Lyon dorm in the waning minutes before freshman curfew -- 10:30 p.m. on weeknights -- the dorm mother peering through the window, ready to throw the deadbolt on all that passion.

We got married on campus soon after graduation in the Newman Center chapel, each got jobs as teachers and headed back to the classroom, where it all began. We've remained married for 38 years, with two great sons and now five wonderful grandchildren. If you include our dating, we've been together for 43 years, and if you go back to first grade, that makes 55. And we plan to make it "Happily Ever After."

©2006 The Republican

© 2006 All Rights Reserved.ur paragraph here.

With the pressure of the Junior Prom looming on the horizon, my Aunt Sue told me I had to screw up the courage to ask some girl to this rite of passage. So with sweaty fingers I dialed that number that I still remember, somehow blurted out the question, and, to my trembling surprise, the fried-spaghetti-eater-turned-cheerleader said, "Yes"!