Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

September 15, 2013

Half a Century and Happy: The Dunbars

Wayne Dunbar and two other guys on the Logansport High School basketball team were bored one Sunday in 1943. So they came to Kokomo in search of Mom Oakley’s, a soda shop for teenagers.

“We heard it was a place to meet girls,” Wayne said.

They got a little lost trying to find the place and saw two girls walking down the street. The boys approached them, hoping the young women would be able to point them in the right direction.

One of the girls was Joan Ellis, and Mom Oakley’s happened to only be a block from her house.

They walked as a group to the soda shop, and afterward went to Joan’s house to make future plans for dates.

Jamie, one of Wayne’s friends, went out with Joan. On their many double dates, Wayne went out too, but always with another girl.

“I thought she was a pretty nice-lookin’ girl, but Jamie already latched onto her,” he said of Joan.

Joan didn’t really have eyes for Wayne. She preferred Jamie, who was taller than the rest of the guys.

“I thought he was okay,” Joan said of Wayne. “But, I liked the other one best.”

Since they didn’t have much money, their double dates mainly consisted of sitting on the front porch or walking uptown. Joan didn’t mind, as long as they were there.

“Those girls would settle for a Coke,” Wayne joked.

“No, that’s all we were offered,” Joan laughed.

Over a couple of months, her feelings for Wayne began to change, even though he had no idea.

“I gradually changed my mind,” Joan said. “I’d be looking for him, not the tallest. Finally, I couldn’t see any of them but Wayne.”

During this time, Wayne signed up to volunteer for the Army Air Corps, and only a few months after first meeting Joan, he was activated for World War II. He and his buddies came to Kokomo to say goodbye to the girls.

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