When Dorothy met Loren | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Oct 24, 2018

My father, Loren Bradbury, played football at Yakima High School during the early 1930s. Watching him play in the first football game of the season her sophomore year, my mother, Dorothy Thompson, thought he was cute.

Cute, but probably unattainable.

He was a popular junior. She was a shy sophomore. Nevertheless, she decided she would find a way to meet him. It took a while to figure out how to do that.

School didn’t seem to be the right place. Loren’s classes were nowhere near hers, and if she did catch a glimpse of him, he was in the midst of friends – not that she would have spoken. She couldn’t imagine him ever being interested in her, but that didn’t stop her from thinking about him.

Was he as nice as she thought he would be? She and her best friend Lenore attended the next two football games, and Dorothy confided her plan.

The plan Dorothy created for meeting Loren Bradbury required dipping into the money she had been saving to have her hair bobbed. Babysitting paid little, but she had accumulated over $5 in nickels, dimes and quarters in a little tin box in a dresser drawer.

What she had in mind could cost half that savings, but it might turn out to be a wise investment.

She had heard that Loren had a part-time job on Saturdays in his father’s store on Yakima Avenue. Bradbury’s offered a wide range of stationery, office furniture, safes, art supplies, a large variety of items offices and businesses required.

The family business occupied the ground floor of a spacious building, with a striped canvas awning over the front entrance. Dorothy had never had any reason to go in the store, but now she did.

So on a crisp fall Saturday afternoon, a shy Dorothy Thompson gathered her courage and walked several blocks to the Bradbury family business on Yakima Avenue. She stood up straight, took one deep breath and turned the polished knob on the heavy door.

When she entered the store, a bell chimed pleasantly as the door shut. The sound startled her. What was I thinking?

Bradbury’s smelled of floor wax and furniture polish. The store was much finer than she had anticipated. Great white globe lights hung from the high ceiling, casting mellow light. Several employees assisted customers or tidied already-tidy displays. They wore gray jackets, their names embroidered in black on the chest pockets.

Suddenly someone said, “Hi. Could I help you?”

Loren Bradbury stood a few yards beyond the door, off to the side, polishing the glass top of a walnut display case. He smiled. She stammered something about a fountain pen, and he led her to the glass-topped display case.

“Do you like green?” the boy asked. She nodded.

“Let me show you my favorite pen. It’s a Parker. It’ll last you all through college.”

College? Up close, wearing a gray jacket with “Loren” embroidered on the pocket, he looked wonderful.

“Hey,” he said, looking more closely at her. “Aren’t you Dorothy Thompson? I saw you at lunch last week and asked someone who you were. I’m Loren Bradbury.”

Somehow she managed to say yes to the green Parker pen without thinking to ask what it cost, and to the bottle of black ink. And somehow, after she counted out her money, she had spent all but 37 cents, but did not care about having her hair bobbed.

Loren Bradbury wrapped her purchases in brown paper, tilted his head to one side and smiled.

“Thank you, Dorothy Thompson,” he said.

And somehow, when she left the store, she had agreed to watch him play football Friday night, and then go out for ice cream afterward, if her mother would let her.

And somehow, that day, Loren Bradbury and Dorothy Thompson began a relationship that eventually led them into a sweet, enduring marriage.

 

 

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