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Sunday, March 12, 2006

The First Date

Mandeh wrote this as an anniversary gift to all of us. I am posting this in her stead.

The First Date

It was a beautiful Saturday in mid July 1945. Ray didn’t have much to do that day, and was just cleaning up the yard. He smiled at Livy’s progress with the flower borders and beds. They had not looked so good since he mother had taken care of them. Ray always planted a vegetable garden, and Livy had helped him plant one in the spring, and would spend time weeding and gathering the vegetables that were ripened and using them in her meal planning.

Livy came to the back door and told Ray that his sister was on the phone and needed to talk to him. He dusted off his pants and walked into the house. Since Martha was doing all the talking, Livy only heard Ray speak occasionally. When he got off the phone Ray told Livy that Martha said that they had more vegetables than they could use, and would they like to get some from her.

Livy said that that sounded like a good idea. Ray said, ‘How ‘bout I take Daniel with me? You know how they always like to see him, especially Ruth, and it would take him off your hands for a few hours.’ Livy really loved the idea! Maybe she would get something done while they were both out. Ray and Daniel left about 3:00 in the afternoon, after Daniel’s nap.

Livy kept herself busy for the next few hours, humming to the tunes on the radio as she worked. At about 5:00 the phone rang. She answered and a male voice said, ‘Could I speak to Miss Olivia Dunne?’ She was thrown into a moment of panic because she had not been call Miss Dunne for over a year.

Before she had time to panic and think it might be Edward, the voice on the other end of the phone said. ‘This is Mr Ray Singleton, and I was wondering, if this really is Miss Olivia Dunne would she be so kind as to honour this poor hard working farmer with a date tonight?’

Livy burst out laughing, first with relief that it was not Edward, and then at this whole charade that Ray was planning. She said, ‘Well, Mr Singleton, I have a lot of work to do around this farm house, but I might be able to postpone some of it till Monday.’

‘Whew,’ said Ray, ‘I thought you were going to refuse me! Martha and Ruth have offered to look after Daniel, and Hank and the boys will take care of the chores. See you in your best dress in about an hour?’

‘Mr Singleton, it takes a girl longer than an hour to prepare for a date! How about picking me up at 6:30?’

Ray liked the fact that Livy was going along with the charade of them being single. He laughed and said, ‘Okay, Miss Dunne, see you at 6:30.’

Livy asked, ‘Mr Singleton, do you know where I live?’

Ray, trying not to laugh, said, ‘I might have to ask someone directions, but I’ll get there.’

After they hung up the phone, Livy continued with her tasks for a while and then went upstairs to get ready for her first date with Mr Singleton. She felt as giddy and as excited as she was before her first date when she was a teenager. The first she did was to go to the closet to select an outfit. She chose one of the dresses that Abby had brought to her recently when her and Dot came to visit and be part of their vows renewal. After getting the dress out, she selected jewelry and her makeup, and then had a bath. She had done a good job of getting down to her pre-pregnancy weight, so the dress fit very well. She put on some makeup, and jewelry, and a wee bit of perfume. She looked at herself in the floor length mirror and admired what she saw. She hoped Mr Singleton would be pleased, too.

Just shortly after she was ready, she heard an automobile coming up the driveway. She had just come downstairs when she heard a knock at the front door. She walked down the hall toward the door, and could see a man standing there. He looked very handsome, and had a shy lopsided smile on his face.

As she opened the door he reached out his hand to her and said, ‘Miss Dunne?’
Livy extended her hand to him she said, ‘Yes. And you are Mr Singleton?’

He nodded. Even though they had lived together in the same house as husband and wife for just over a year now, Ray found himself to be a bit nervous. She looked so beautiful! How did he ever deserve her as a wife never mind as a woman who agreed to go out on a date with him? He was just plain Ray Singleton, a farmer, and she was beautiful, worldly Miss Olivia Dunne who had lived in Denver all her life, was university educated, and had aspirations to become an archeologist?.

Livy closed the inside door, stepped out onto the porch, and Ray put his hand under her elbow and guided her toward the car. He had borrowed the car from Hank since he wanted to impress Miss Dunne. As they drove to La Junta, they nervously talked about themselves. It was like a real first date where they asked each other questions about their lives. Since Mr Singleton seemed a bit shy, Miss Dunne started to ask him questions first, and after answering he would ask the same questions of her.

The plan was to go to the Harvest House restaurant for dinner and then to a movie.

By the time they got to the Harvest House they were more at ease with each other and stopped calling each other Mr Singleton and Miss Dunne. Livy told Ray that this was a very good idea of his. He looked at her shyly, swallowed, and said, ‘Livy, my love, you deserve more than me. You deserve the best of the best, and all I can offer you is a life of hard work on my farm.’

Livy reached out her hand to cover his tanned work hardened hand. She looked lovingly across the table at Ray and said softly, ‘Ray, its our farm, and the hard work seems like nothing, it seems so natural when the work is shared with someone you love, except the cooking!’ They both laughed! Livy was still having problems getting herself organized when it came to cooking. Ray often offered to do it, but Livy knew how hard he worked and he deserved to have a meal prepared for him after a hard days work.

They enjoyed their dinner and the conversation. They chose to go see a funny movie. There had been so much bad news from the war front in the year since they first met that they decided a comedy would be perfect for a first date.