How’s this for a dating technique?
Imperial Valley continually goes through cycles in their supply of public-school teachers. Just as we lament teachers being laid off, a few years later there is a plan to offer bonuses for new teachers. Back in the early 70s, the influx of new, young teachers from out of state provided a steady supply of young, single women beginning their teaching careers in California.
Internet dating services were unheard of at that time. Young single men had to use their wit to meet eligible dates. As a young police officer in Brawley, patrolling the schools was on our list of priorities. Just before the opening of a local elementary school, I eyed a young, blond, attractive woman in a mini skirt, parking her sports car on the street in front of the school. As she hurried from her car to the classroom, I stopped and motioned for her to return. I proceeded to tell her that she was partially parked in a red zone. With the soft twang of a southern accent, her first words to me were, “Only a littl’ bi’t.”
In my most official manner, I advised her a newly hired teacher in California must obtain California car registration. She had Texas plates attached to her blue 1964 Porsche. While examining her out of state driver’s license, I requested her current address and telephone number. Official business, of course. We both parted that day with something we didn’t have earlier. I had her name, address, and telephone number and she had her first California parking ticket.
Using that newly obtained information, I called her for a date. She had been in Southern California for several months and had already visited the usual tourist spots, including the beach. I surprised her with a day-long road trip to Mexicali. She enjoyed the shopping, the food, and especially our time together. After that, we took advantage of every weekend and every school holiday, enjoying local places such as the sand dunes, the Salton Sea, Padre Games, and night spots like the South Gate and the Brawley Inn.
A few months later, we were sharing a rented house together behind Woo’s Market. Her weekly telephone conversations with her mother back in Texas included her new job and the cop she was dating. It didn’t take long for the parents to shift their schedule and plan a visit to Disneyland, and of course, stop by to meet this policeman. Unfortunately, she had failed to reveal to the parents that we were living together. The scenario she presented was while I slept during the day, she worked and, vise-a-versa. She described our living arrangements to her parents as platonic and purely financially driven. Looking back, I wonder if they were really that naïve.
The parents’ first visit happened on one of my days off, but to continue the false picture, we pretended I was scheduled to work at midnight. Around ten o’clock that evening, I announced I needed to dress for work, and we suggested they could go back to the Travelodge until the next day. But the dad wanted to continue to visit with Linda and see me in my “uniform” before I left for work. After a complete change including shower, shave, shoeshine and donning leather with weapons, I posed for photos, and then they escorted me to my pickup. Nowhere to go, I just drove around until, at a stoplight, a patrol unit caught sight of me. Ignoring their waves and taunts, I drove to the local diner and had a two-hour cup of coffee.
Days later, the Chief summoned me into his office. I was asked to explain being seen driving around town after midnight in an old pickup truck wearing my uniform on my day off. After I detailed the story of the parents, he advised me to get married. The Chief’s mantra was, “The downfall of many a good officer is attributed to one of three vices: Bills-Broads-Booze.” Not knowing which category my driving around in my uniform on my day off fit into, I, none the less, never forgot that advice. We were married a month later.
Her dad worked in Houston for Lipton Tea. In my mind, I processed the facts. She went to a fancy, private university in Dallas. She drove a Porsche. Her father had a corporate job in Houston. I decided that this well-off, Texas family could use a big, strong California policeman in their future. We were married a month later. Eventually I discovered the dad’s job was placing boxes of tea bags on local market shelves, she still had student loans on that expensive college tuition, and there were quite a few payments left on the Porsche. It worked out though. We are now both retired, she as a schoolteacher and myself as a city manager. Our 50th anniversary is occurring this summer and by the way, our three adult children have left the nest with families of their own, but we still drive a 1964 Porsche and a pickup.
I often tell my friends how I got that first date, including issuing the parking ticket. Looking back, it certainly has been the most expensive and the best achievement in my life.
Brawley native Harrell Glenn Crowson is a retired city manager and the author of “Almost Eleven – The Murder of Brenda Sue Sayers.” Crowson and his wife currently live in Desert Hot Springs. His website is harrellglenncrowson.com.