Lorraine’s Lowdown: Bring on the Valentines! | TheUnion.com
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Lorraine’s Lowdown: Bring on the Valentines!

By Lorraine Jewett | Special to The Union

A Special Valentine’s Day Edition of Lorraine’s Lowdown follows, filled with stories of love, laughter, and “Oh no you didn’t…!”

Panic-provoking Poetry. Every Valentine’s Day during her youth, her clever father sent her a card anonymously and had it mailed by one of his colleagues from a distant city. Oh, how she loved those mysterious cards! She continued her father’s tricks with her own children, sending them loving poems. Innocent enough, until one day our anonymous poet did this: “I sent one to a friend’s daughter who was in a UC Berkeley dorm. It was awful, scary, threatening to climb in her window to take her heart, all in clever poetry. But they took it seriously, called the police, and took her out of school!” Our poet later learned about the unintended consequences in a phone call. “They told me what had happened to their daughter. I acted surprised and hung up. I then told my husband, who insisted I call my friend back and confess. I was screaming in embarrassment and horror at what I had done. I called and confessed, mortified. We are still friends…”

When Steve and Kym Johnson Started Dating, they traveled to Death Valley for their first vacation together. “Along the way, we bought tasty dates and were snacking on them as we drove,” says Kym. “Without notice, my passenger window came down a crack. I thought, ‘How sweet. He’s cracking my window so I can toss my date pits.’ Mid-toss, the window came up and painfully crushed my finger. Apparently he was trying to crack his window and hit the wrong control. It took many years for me to not flinch at the crack of a window in the car. And 33 years later, Steve still loudly announces, ‘Windows up!’…”



A crushed finger, a memorable story, and a “Windows up!” warning were created when Kym and Steve Johnson went on their first vacation together 33 years ago.
Submitted to The Union

Manly Man in the Kitchen. Bruce Van Zee, now retired, enjoyed his career working for the US Forest Service in Alaska, the Tahoe National Forest and other locations. One year on Valentine’s Day, Bruce decided to bake a chocolate torte for his wife Robin. “This man has been using power tools, including chainsaws, for 60 years. But while trying to cream butter with an immersion blender, he somehow severed the top of his finger!” recalls Robin. “After several hours at Yubadocs, pain and many stitches, we came home with his finger heavily bandaged and mostly intact, to a mess of chocolate, butter, sugar and blood. I hated to see all those rich ingredients go to waste, so I cleaned up the blood and finished the torte. We never forget Valentine’s Day…”

Bruce Van Zee can wield a chainsaw with aplomb, but he nearly severed a finger baking a Valentine’s Day torte for his wife, Robin.
Submitted to The Union

The Sorority Rush Skit was entitled “Women through the Ages” and Miss Anonymous was one of the 1968 pledge sisters who performed for the next door fraternity. Among the iconic representations of women, such as cavewoman, flapper, and go-go dancer, this pledge sister was selected to portray a Playboy Bunny. “But I lacked the one attribute that Bunnies are known for,” she explains. “So I borrowed a bra from the best endowed girl in the house and stuffed it with socks. The skit was greatly appreciated, and I was noticed by one of the guys who pledged the frat. A few months later, he needed a date for a function and one of my sisters arranged for me to accompany him. One date led to another, and four years later we were married. We’ve been married 50 years, but he has never let me forget that what first attracted him to me was what he calls ‘false advertising’…!”



The Barbershop Quartet arrived a few minutes early on Valentine’s Day 2006, so the singers waited in their car. Carol Babson noticed them and reported to her boss: “There’s a car in the parking lot filled with four guys in tuxedos. Does that seem odd to you?” Moments later, the quartet entered the building, summoned Carol, and burst into song. “My wife was blushing and smiling at the same time,” says Dennis, who hired the quartet to surprise his wife. How does one top that? The following year, Dennis showed up at Carol’s workplace with a paper bag over his head and a bouquet of flowers in his hands. Written on the bag was “Unknown Florist,” a tribute to the Unknown Comic often featured on The Gong Show…

Dennis Babson showed up as the “Unknown Florist” at his wife Carol’s workplace with a paper bag over his head and a bouquet of flowers in his hands, imitating the Unknown Comic often featured on The Gong Show.
Submitted to The Union
The Sierranators, members of the Nevada-Placer Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, used to perform at special events including Valentine’s Day appearances.
Submitted to The Union

When Patrick O’Donnell and Katy Potter first started dating, Patrick spray painted (with biodegradable tree-marking paint) “I LOVE KATY POTTER!” in three-foot high lettering on a snow bank at the dry yards (a pullout on the way to Li’l Town). “I had no idea!” says Katy. “I was working at the bar and Linda Kraush said, ‘Have you seen what is up at the dry yards?’” Katy was touched by Patrick’s grand gesture, Washington style. “It was sweet in his mountain-man, logger-type way. It must have worked, too. That was 20 years ago…”

Another Story from Li’l Town. Chantel Wilkison was married at the time, so she jokes that she has no romantic stories. But she says her ex-husband David was her almost daily embarrassment and she always jumped to his rescue. “Everyone in Washington can vouch for that,” Chantel insists. “He would get drunk at the bar and couldn’t walk to the house. He would holler, “CHANTEL!” I had to go walk him home. Funny? Romantic? Could have been, I guess. To this day, people still yell my name trying to emulate him. I just don’t jump anymore…!”

A Chill in the Air. Casey Jennings left GeeVee in his rear view mirror in 1995 and moved for a short time to Washington state. During a visit to our humble hamlet to retrieve the last of his belongings, Casey reconnected with a woman who was just a friend — though both hoped for more. Kandis Baker offered to help Casey finish his move and later found herself helping him unpack at his place in Washington. It was getting late, so Kandis recused herself to the guest room… until it became unbearably cold. She tiptoed into Casey’s room and asked if they could snuggle together for warmth. The next morning, he mentioned, “You know the heater works in the guest room.” They shared a laugh. “It was a mutual scam,” says Casey, “and we’ve been married 24 years…”

Taking a Knee to Propose, he never expected this response: “Are you kidding me?!?” Bob Schmitt and Naomi Soss were part of the post-game crowd on the field after a Giants Spring Training game in Scottsdale. People were milling about, children running the bases. Bob and Naomi had dated for six years, and Bob decided to put a ring on it. “I was certain she’d be all excited and say ’yes,’” says Bob. Naomi recalls looking around, embarrassed and uncomfortable. “I was mortified,” she says. “I’m not a crowd person.” Bob was tempted to disappear by running bases with the kids, but instead he doubled down. Naomi said ’yes,’ and they’ve enjoyed 16 years of wedded bliss…

Undaunted when his girlfriend Naomi Soss didn’t immediately say “yes” to his proposal at a Spring Training baseball game, Bob Schmitt persisted and the couple has enjoyed 16 years of wedded bliss.
Submitted to The Union

All in the Family. Here’s one from Brad Peceimer when he and his late wife dined in 1997 at NevCity’s Stonehouse Brewery. “It was Mary’s birthday and I thought it was a perfect evening for a nice night out,” recalls Brad. “A little background, Mary was 24 years my senior. We arrived at the Stonehouse and walked up to the receptionist to let her know we had reservations. The hostess greeted Mary as they were friends and looked at me saying, ‘Oh, you’re having dinner with your son,” to which Mary chuckled and said, ‘Come on, son’ and I replied, ‘OK, mom.’ Once seated at our table, Mary leaned in and kissed me. The woman’s jaw fell open, hitting the floor. Mary said, ‘Aren’t families great?’ We both laughed and the poor woman walked away looking like she’d seen a ghost…”

“Before You Marry a Person, you should first make them use a computer with slow internet service to see who they really are.” – Will Ferrell, American actor and comedian…

Fire up the computer and send your happy happenings to LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com



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