“He had me at the first kiss,” she said. “I didn’t know if he liked me because he was so quiet, but I guess he did because when he kissed me I thought ‘Oh alright!’ I’d never been kissed like that. I was enamored. I really fell for him.”
They started going steady then. They exchanged love notes at their lockers and spent four years dating. Before Ralph graduated high school, they went on dates to drive-in movies, and drive-in restaurants.
“We just wanted to be together,” Ralph said. “It didn’t matter where we were.”
He knew almost immediately that he wanted to marry Rita.
“I knew that she was the one,” he said. “She was really pretty, and she was always helping people. And that hasn’t changed.”
Ralph asked her to marry him several times, but he never got a definite yes from Rita.
“I wasn’t ready for that yet,” Rita said. “To commit your life to somebody, that’s a big step. I knew I was crazy about him, but I had to know it was what the Lord wanted me to do. When the Lord tells me, I’ll know.”
When Ralph left for six weeks for basic training at Fort Knox after he graduated from high school, Rita knew she was ready to marry him.
“I missed him so badly, and he missed me,” Rita said.
She took a bus from Kokomo to Fort Knox to surprise him. She had never traveled anywhere by herself before, and by the time she arrived in Indianapolis it was 1 a.m. She rode all night and saw the sun come up before she arrived at the base in Kentucky.
“I was scared to death,” she said. “I was a little country girl from Kokomo. It took every bit of courage I had.”