Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Features

December 29, 2013

The girl next door

Elmer Byers and Kathy Tilley were next-door neighbors when the teens fell in love

Elmer Byers and Kathy Tilley were next-door neighbors when they started dating in 1950.

Kathy’s parents were originally renting a house from Elmer’s grandparents, but ended up moving next door when Elmer’s parents bought the house to take care of the grandparents. Once Elmer moved in with his family, he immediately noticed Kathy.

“She was a cute little dickens,” he said of Kathy, who was four years younger than him.

Elmer would make it his mission to talk to Kathy whenever she was outside.

“She’d be out in the yard and I’d come over to the fence and I’d make sure we’d talk to each other,” he said.

Thirteen-year-old Kathy never paid much attention to Elmer’s flirtations at first, but she thought he was friendly and nice-looking.

“I hadn’t really thought too much about boys at that time,” she said.

Six months later, her feelings began to change when Elmer asked her to go on a Halloween hayride with his church youth group. Her parents allowed her to go, and it was the first date of many for Elmer and Kathy.

When they weren’t talking to each other over the fence, they went to drive-in movies together and visited with friends as they drove around the square in downtown Kokomo. During school, Elmer came to Kokomo High School to pick up Kathy to get lunch at a restaurant called My Grill.

“They couldn’t keep us apart,” Kathy laughed.

Their parents weren’t as thrilled that the couple was seeing so much of each other.

“They’d kinda get peeved at us when we’d talk over the fence,” Kathy said. “They thought I was too young.”

As for Elmer and Kathy, they loved the fact that they lived next to each other.

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