The Girl Who Saved Me

Her mother gave Linda permission to date me, but I had to have her home by ten o’clock.

If you write a memoir of sorts, you probably begin your story with the most important person in your life.

So I did.

I wrote first about the girl who saved me. Here is an excerpt.

I WAS A BOY hanging on the threshold of manhood, so thin I had trouble casting a shadow, so shy I lived in the shadows but was afraid to talk to them.

I never had a date in high school. I would see pretty girls walking down the hallway. They caught my eye. But I never spoke.

Here was my dilemma.

I could say hello.

Then they would say hello

And it would be my turn to speak again.

I had nothing else to say.

So I looked straight ahead and kept right on walking.

For some reason, this young lady in high school had a crush on me when I was running down news and sports stories for the Kilgore College newspaper. But she was shy, too. She talked her best girl friend into calling me at night.

The girl friend said her name was Martha.

It wasn’t.

I didn’t know better.

I didn’t care.

The phone rang.

I said hello.

She said hello.

And I beat the odds.

I had something else to say. We talked night after night, and we talked for hours. I was infatuated with Martha before I ever knew her name was Linda Greer.

I never dated the young lady who had a crush on me. I did go out with Linda. For three years we circled the Dairy Queen and listened to Elvis on the radio.  Milk shakes. And all shook up. Could life get any better? I doubted it.

Her mother, Forrest Betty, gave Linda permission to date me. But I had to have her home by ten o’clock. I saw it in her mother’s eyes. That didn’t mean five after ten. “Nothing good ever happens after ten o’clock,” she said. Five after ten meant my dating days had come to an abrupt end.

I’ve had drill sergeants. They didn’t frighten me.

Linda’s mother did.

After three years, I walked up to Linda’s mother one night and asked, “What’ll you take for Linda?”

Her mother thought a moment, then answered, “Well I do need a new thimble.”

I drove down to Duncan’s five and dime, walked in, invested a good, honest, pure silver quarter in a new thimble, and drove back to Linda’s house. I handed the thimble to Forrest Betty.

She looked it over, nodded, motioned to Linda and said, “I guess she’s yours.”

She was. And she is.

We were married on a Saturday night and drove to Austin where I had enrolled at The University of Texas. I had rented a small one-bedroom garage apartment. The electricity was on, but not the gas. We had a gas stove.

So for our first night together, Linda broiled two hamburger patties in the electric toaster, boiled potatoes in an electric coffee pot, and warmed up pork and beans in an electric popcorn popper.

She laughed. I laughed. And we knew everything would be all right.

Please click HERE to find The Man Who Talks to Strangers on Amazon.

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  • Linda Pirtle

    Those were the days.

  • TomAdkinson

    That’s one tale I never heard from you, and I’ve heard many. How very nice.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      We need to get together and trade more tales better left forgotten.

  • Gay Ingram

    Ain’t young love sweet?

    • Caleb Pirtle


  • Jackie Taylor Zortman

    That’s a wonderful story and you are a very lucky man. She’s gorgeous.

  • Lynn Hobbs

    Love the excerpt from the story! Can’t wait to read more! 🙂

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Thanks, Lynn.

  • Carol Toberny

    Wonderful beginning! A sense of humor. . .

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Living with Linda, you need a sense of humor.

      • Carol Toberny

        Haha! You know what I meant!

  • Lana L. Higginbotham

    This is marvelous! I look forward to reading it. You two are the best, especially together.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Thanks, Lana. The reason we’re always together is the fact she tells me where I can and can’t go and what I can and can’t do. Then she comes along to make sure I do or don’t do it.

  • Don Newbury

    Beautiful story that could not have been better, and that’s because Caleb let his heart tell it! Your mention of Kilgore College reminds me of one of its late–and great–presidents–Stewart McLaren, and I’m not sure I spelled either name correctly! I was on campus to speak at an anniversary of KC–maybe 50th, or maybe 75th. Anyways, he acknowledged a young staff member who was handling the sound. Stewart mentioned him by name, recalling that when the young man was a student at KC, he “wanted to be a hippy, but didn’t know how.” Somehow, I can’t get Caleb’s picture out of my mind, particularly since reading this excerpt!

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Thanks for your kind comments, Don. I was a hippie all right, but they wouldn’t let me near anything as important as a sound system. I was editor of the college newspaper because I couldn’t ruin pieces of paper. I was recognizable by the printer’s ink stains on my fingers. It was long before digital. We printed the pager on an old press used to print the Gladewater Daily Mirror.

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