Jim... Who?

They both "grew up" during those two years.
I was 14 years old; the year was 1957. I was entering ninth grade and going to a different school with a few close girlfriends I had always hung out with. Being young teens, we talked a lot about all the new boys we were meeting. We decided to write the names of the boys we thought were "cute" on the front of our notebooks. While having lunch together, we would giggle and swoon while comparing the names we had written. We really didn't know these boys and sometimes had to find out their names from various sources.

One blond, blue-eyed boy we all had written on our notebooks was Jim Schultz. He had a shy smile and demeanor. Even though we all agreed Jim was super cute, he was just too short! Being 14-year-old girls, our future dating plans did not include dating someone shorter than ourselves. We felt that if Jim was to have any kind of future dating girls, he needed to "grow up." Then, as our school year ended, Jim was gone and forgotten.

Fast-forward two years to the summer of 1959. I had turned 16 and started my first job as a carhop at the local A&W Root Beer stand.

I believe it was fate when it was my turn to wait on the next car that came into the lot. A beat-up, old, noisy 1946 Ford rolled in. The other carhops looked at me and told me this gem was mine. Reluctantly, I approached the car.

The driver looked barely old enough to drive. When he shyly looked up at me, I was taken by surprise as I thought, Is this Jim Schultz? I acted rather shy myself while taking his food order. After some small talk, he made his choices.

I put his order in and asked the girls if they remembered Jim Schultz. They did, and they mentioned that he was cute but really short! I told them he was in the old jalopy. One asked if he was still short. "How do I know?" I replied. "He's sitting low in his seat, and I can't tell if it's because he's short or he likes to drive sitting low."

Jim became a regular customer and eventually asked if he could give me a ride home. I debated, but his winning smile won me over. During the drive home, he asked me for a date, and I said yes.

After arriving at my house, Jim made a move toward my side of the car. Well, I didn't want any part of that, and I jumped out of the car and ran inside. I suppose I blew that! I said to myself. He probably won't even show up Saturday night. (Months later, Jim told me that after I jumped out of the car, and he watched me run into the house, he said to himself, I'm going to marry that girl someday.)

I told my mom about my date with the guy who brought me home, Jim Schultz, and that I was concerned that he might be shorter than I was.

"Height shouldn't be your top priority," Mom said. "It's a person's heart you want to get to know. I hope you give this young man a chance and look beyond whatever his stature may be."

So, on Saturday night, Jim rolled up in his rusty jalopy. Mom piped up, "Allie, I'm proud of you that your decision to date this young man was not based on his car. He's got quite a rust bucket out there."

As Jim stepped out of his car, I was surprised to see that he had done some growing up since ninth grade. "Look at him, Mom! He's definitely taller than me!"

I learned two important things on that first date. One, his name was (and is) Jim Choate (pronounced show-ta), not Jim Schultz—I never did figure out how all of us girls had gotten the wrong name. And two, his heart was and is a kind and loving one.

Now, after 64 years, I cannot imagine taking my life's journey with anyone else other than Jim Choate. I truly feel grateful and blessed.