It sounds like a scene from “American Graffiti.”
A handsome guy with a crew cut cruises down the street in his 1951 red Ford convertible with a couple of buddies. He honks the horn as they drive past a women’s dorm on a small college campus.
Dean Nevius was the driver that night in March 1953, and one of the girls in the dorm was a freshman named Mary.
It happened to be Dean’s birthday. He turned 21 and worked in Fremont, Neb., for a railroad.
Mary was 18, and a student at Fremont’s Midland College.
Dean and his buddies would sometimes drive past the dorms, hoping the girls would notice them.
That night, after he honked, he noticed that the lights suddenly turned off in one of the dorm rooms, and the curtains opened. Dean stopped his car and backed up to take a look.
Mary was in the dorm room talking with two friends when they heard the honk. They peeked out the window and saw Dean and the other two young guys.
Dean and his friends started talking with Mary and her friends through the window, which was on the first floor. They asked the girls if they wanted to take a ride. Mary knew one of the guys because he was a student at the college.
Mary and her friends were already in their pajamas, but they were looking for a little adventure. So they put on bathrobes and coats and climbed out the window, because it was past the 7 p.m. dorm curfew.
Mary and her friends hopped into the Ford, and the guys and girls cruised around, laughing and listening to the radio. After a while, Dean dropped the girls back at their dorm.
Dean ended up dating another girl who was in the car that night, and Mary began dating one of the guys.
A few months later, those couples broke up. Soon Dean spotted Mary in Fremont and asked her out to a movie.
They started dating, dancing at Peony Park in Omaha, swimming and going out for burgers.
Dean joined the Navy in February 1954, spending most of his service in the Philippines. But he and Mary wrote lots of letters. He visited her when he was on leave.
They got engaged in spring 1954 and married April 6, 1956, at a Methodist church in Omaha.
After the Navy, Dean studied business at Omaha University and worked more than 30 years for a credit company. Mary worked at Mutual of Omaha but stayed home after their first child was born.
They ended up having five children and 12 grandchildren, and have lived in Fremont most of their lives. Today is their 57th wedding anniversary.
Over the years, they drove many times past the Midland campus, down the street where Mary lived in the dorm, where she climbed out the window looking for a little fun.
They’ll look at each other, hold hands and smile.
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