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How A 'No' Led To A 'Yes' In 1959

Jim Crane didn't date in high school. Not at all.

But when he went to college in 1955, he found out he liked girls. A lot.

"They were soft and they smelled good," he tells his daughter, Missy Worden, at StoryCorps in Atlanta.

During his senior year at Union College, Jim met his future wife, Juna. He was working in the business office and she was a switchboard operator.

"I'd come up the hall a-whistling and she'd always fuss at me because she was trying to hear," the 73-year-old says. "I got to talking to her and I got to liking her. I finally said, 'You wanna go to a movie with me?'"

Juna declined. "I've double-dated with you. I see what you do to those girls in the backseat," he tells his daughter she said.

Jim had never gotten a "no" from a girl.

He had given a woman he had been dating in Charlotte, N.C., a pin.

"I wrote and told her to send it back to me," he says. "And the girl I was dating in town, I'd give her some little something or other and I told her to give that back to me. And another girl I was dating on campus, I'd done something for her, and I told her to give that back to me. "

Jim took those three trinkets to the switchboard where Juna worked and laid them down.

"I said, 'Now, lookahere. I done broke up with all three of those girls.' I said, 'Will you go to a movie with me?' She said, 'OK.'"

I've double dated with you. I see what you do to those girls in the backseat.

Jim and Juna started dating. After graduating from college in 1959, Jim went immediately into the Navy.

"I was gonna give her a diamond engagement ring when I got paid at the end of boot camp. But the Navy screwed up the pay somehow, and everybody got paid but me," he says. "Well, I'd told everybody what I was going to do with my money, and I was very despondent.

"I was sitting on my bed and this guy I didn't like came up to me and he said, 'Crane, give me a match.' I said, 'I don't smoke and I don't have matches.' He said, 'Yeah you do. I've seen them in your locker.' And I gave a great oof, and stood up and went to my locker and opened it."

Jim's locker was full of money.

"The money started falling out, so I sat down and cried," he says. "I guess they passed the hat. And I used that money to buy your mother's first diamond ring.

"I said, 'Now, you're gonna marry me, but you gotta know that you're engaged to Company 290,'" Jim explains. "So she said, 'That's fair.'"

The Cranes will celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary on Monday.

Produced forMorning Edition by Nadia Reiman. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WABE.

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