A tragic accident led Bud Rife to Joan Zook in 1952.
Bud was invited by his friends to join them on a drive from his hometown of Chili to have a malt in Peru. He turned them down because he already had a date planned.
His friends went on to Peru without him and were involved in a car accident on the way there. Two guys in the car were killed.
The driver of the car, who was dating Joan's sister at the time, got his license taken away for a year. He eventually approached Bud and asked him if he would be willing to drive the car to Kokomo and, in return, he would get 17-year-old Bud a date.
Bud agreed. Then he and his date and his friend and his friend's date were at a service at Kokomo Zion Church one day when he spotted 18-year-old Joan. Once he saw her there, no other girl mattered. It was love at first sight for Bud, and he told his friend that if he couldn't get a date with Joan, he would no longer drive him to Kokomo.
After the service, Bud invited Joan to tag along with the two couples to get malts and burgers.
"I guess I never noticed that I was the fifth clog in the wheel," Joan said. "The others had partners, and there I was just hanging along."
Joan had a crush on Bud, too. She said she talked so much around him that day. She normally didn’t talk a lot. When his friend talked to her about going on a date with Bud, she agreed.
Bud made the 70-mile round trip drive from Chili to Kokomo and back when gas was 20 cents per gallon to see Joan once a week. They would go to church and drive-in movies together. On the days they didn’t see each other, they wrote.