John Stewart first visited Kokomo in 1944 after the Michigan native was stationed at Bunker Hill in the naval air force.t
The 24-year-old was wandering around with a fellow sailor when he noticed 18-year-old Martha “Marty” Smith walking home from church with her brother and a friend.
“I was interested in her the moment I saw her,” John said. “She was very pretty. I think that always does it for a man.”
The two sailors struck up a conversation with the trio, and followed them to Marty’s home.
Even though he was interested in Marty, the feeling wasn’t mutual. She even tried to avoid seeing him again.
“I don’t know why, but I didn’t like him all that well,” she said. “I would say to my friends, ‘Let’s not go through town because we’ll run into that sailor again.’”
Nonetheless, she ran into him several times around Kokomo, and John was even at a get-together at Marty’s house where a group of guys and girls played a kissing game called Post Office. In the game, each girl was kissed by one of the boys. Marty was scared that she and John would have to kiss.
“I was so shy, so I went and hid under the bed,” she said. “I didn’t wanna kiss him.”
She didn’t kiss him then, but it wasn’t too long after that when she did agree to go out with him.
“After we dated for a while, I thought he’s not so bad after all,” Marty said. “He was a pretty nice guy after I got to know him.”
The couple went out to eat when they could afford it, and particularly enjoyed going out to eat waffles at night together. Any chance they got, they spent time with each other.