Having Fun – Dating

datingBoy meets girl is a story that’s as old as time, but how boys and girls meet has changed a little over the years. Still, the reason for dating – finding a compatible partner – is the same.

Stanley Jensen says, “I think guys, boys, are attracted to girls. That’s always been the case. I don’t think that’s any different. Hormones are raging and so forth. And girls are attracted to boys. I still am good friends with some of the girls I used to date back there.” Louise Dougharty says her parents were very strict, and she didn’t go out with anyone they didn’t approve of. She had many “beaus” in high school. The man she eventually married had a car, and they used to drive to the Dairy Queen in Waco.

Depending on where you lived, young people in the 1930s dated and double-dated by going to movies, getting something to eat, going for ice cream, driving around, spending time with friends, going to dances, and even “necking.”


Millie Opitz (left) is one woman who is willing to admit that she “necked” with her eventual husband. Dating is dating, according to Millie. She says they did things with other people, activities that didn’t require much money. “Kids have to have money, now. My heavens, if you had a five-dollar bill when we were going together, that was a lot of money, it seemed like.”

Delbert Apetz says he didn’t have a car so he had to walk to pick up his date. “You walked clear from east hill up there downtown, picked up your girl and – just walked. Went to the movies or wherever you was going.” Alvin says movies cost him a dime.

Not all dates involved movies, especially if you didn’t have the dime.Carla Due (right) remembers just hanging out with friends, or going on double dates. They couldn’t afford to buy a hamburger in the 1930s, even on a date.

Walter Schmitt says at one time there were three soda fountains in Gresham. You didn’t get ice cream in small town restaurants, you went to a soda fountain. In the evenings, the soda fountain tables in the drug store “would be full. I mean, it was an occasion to go to town and eat ice cream.”


Elroy Hoffman (left) says that even when dating got serious, the Depression might still intervene. Many people put off getting married because there was no money to start a home and family.

And while we’re on the subject of romance – for 20 years, former U.S. Poetkooser Laureate Ted Kooser wrote a new poem each Valentine’s Day. He sent these as postcards to his wife as well as friends of his across the country. In 2006, Ted wrote the last one in the series and collected the poems into a limited edition book entitled, “Out of that Moment.” In this video segment, Ted (right) reads a Valentine’s Day poem that has a rural theme, “Barn Owl.” We also have a video podcast version of this poem on the Media Resources page.


Written by Claudia Reinhardt and Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. First written and published in 2003.

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