Rita’s first glimpse of Ralph Harbaugh was from around the corners inside Hank’s Supermarket in 1959.
Ralph worked as a bagger in the store, and anytime Rita’s family went there she peeked around to see if he was there, too.
“I thought, oh he is so cute,” Rita said. “I wonder who he is?”
She asked her friend, who was also Ralph’s co-worker, about the tall, thin, curly-haired guy with the beautiful eyes. He said Ralph was a nice guy and was a junior at Kokomo High School, where Rita was a sophomore.
She couldn’t believe she had never noticed him before.
The next day at school, while Rita was hanging out with her friends in the Kokomo High School auditorium after lunch, her friend approached her, Ralph in tow.
“He said, ‘Hey Rita, here’s this guy you wanted to meet,’” Rita said. “I must’ve turned three shades of red. I thought, ‘Oh, he’s even cuter up close.’”
When Rita found out what a nice guy Ralph was, it made him even more attractive. Before heading back to class, Ralph gave her a stick of gum. Rita kept that one piece of gum in her diary for years.
“I met Ralph today and he gave me a piece of gum,” she remembers writing in her diary entry.
Ralph didn’t notice that Rita was shy or embarrassed to meet him. He was a pretty shy guy himself.
“I thought she was awfully cute,” Ralph said.
Not long after their initial meeting, Ralph asked her out and they went on a double date to a dinner and a speaker at the YWCA .
It was their first date, and that night, they shared their first kiss. It was something Rita would never forget.