As I sat with my co-worker and other conference attendees I looked across the room. There was a man standing at the end of the bar who appeared to be staring at me. I resumed talking to the women I was with and then looked back and he was still looking in my direction. Each time I looked in his direction he was still staring at me. This was Friday, May 9, 1980 and I was sitting in Yesterday’s Bar at the Southfield Sheraton. I was there for work, assisting at a conference. Although it was a hotel bar, Yesterdays was obviously a popular spot. The bar was crowded, the dance floor was full, and when I had stepped out of the bar to run back to my room for something I found a line going down the hall with people waiting to get in.
Ron and I shortly after we met — notice the camera in his hand
I don’t know how long I sat there talking and glancing back at the bar, each time to find the man at the end staring in my direction. Then I looked and he was gone. I hadn’t seen him walk away and had no idea where he had gone. About that same time someone asked me to dance and I took them up on the offer. Big mistake! I felt as if I was dancing with a chicken trying to shake the feathers off it’s wings. As soon as the song ended I gave a quick “thanks for the dance” and escaped back to my group.
I didn’t sit for long because when the next song started I was again asked to dance, this time by the man from the bar. Dark, nicely styled hair, full beard and mustache, wearing glasses. I don’t know what songs were playing or how long we danced, only that the rest of the evening was spent with him. At some point he asked how old I was and when I replied “19, how old are you?” his response was “too old.” Ron was 28 years old. I remember he asked me to go somewhere but it was fairly soon after we met and I refused to leave the hotel. We ended up sitting on a couch in the lobby talking.
We were still sitting in the lobby when the bar closed down and my co-worker walked by and said she was going out to breakfast with someone she met. Ron responded that I wouldn’t go anywhere with him, to which I replied that wasn’t true. He asked if I had ever been to Belle Isle. I didn’t even know what that was but I was game for an adventure.
Ron drove an F150 pickup and he had to clear junk off the floor of the passenger side for me to get in. I thought ‘ugh, messy car’. I still say that when I get into his vehicle or when I get into mine after he has driven it. We drove down to Belle Isle and sat along the water in his truck talking. At some point he asked for my phone number and I presented him with a deposit slip from my checking account, giving him name, address and phone number. I got back to the hotel at 6:00 am and had to be on the floor working at 8 AM, then made the two hour drive home from Southfield to Eaton Rapids after working the conference.
I had mentioned to Ron what time I anticipated arriving home on Saturday. About 30 minutes after I arrived home the phone rang. Such began daily conversations by phone. Ron had planned to drive up to visit on Friday but unexpectedly arrived a day earlier, on Thursday. He came over to visit (I lived with my parents), and then left to stay at a hotel somewhere even though my parents offered to let him sleep on the couch in our family room. Friday evening Ron picked me up and we went out to the bar dancing and that night he slept on the couch at our house. Saturday we attended to the Art Fair on the Michigan State University campus in Lansing.
Me (Grace) 1980
From that point on our schedule became one of weekday phone calls and weekend visits. Sometimes he would come up to visit, sometimes I would drive down and stay with him, and sometimes we traveled. Ron was a photographer even back then and I slowly learned to take photos with a Nikon SLR rather than my Kodak Pocket 110. We attended art shows, festivals, nature areas, and occasionally traveled. Ron took tons of photos of anything and everything. It has been 34 years since he asked me to dance. What are we doing now? Attending art shows, festivals, nature areas, and and traveling on occasion, and we both take tons of photos of anything and everything. All because of Yesterdays Bar pick-up.