The Bet

Simple bet
major results

"Can I join your game?" asked our mutual friend. Dave Baker (DB) and I were in an intense game of pick-up basketball with a few other friends at the University of Michigan gym. DB and I were students - I a senior and he a first-year graduate student - with upstairs rooms in a private home, sharing a bathroom, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We enjoyed an occasional basketball game, tennis match, racketball match, and other intramural activities as time permitted.

"Sure", we said, "always room for one more". "Can I share your locker?" he said. "Sure", we said, "the locker number is xxxx" (I don't remember the number, to tell the truth), "and the combination is xx-xx-xx" (I don't remember the combination, to tell the truth). DB and I shared a locker, so this would have been the third guy's stuff stuffed in.

He said "How do you work the combination?" DB said "You turn the dial to the left to the first number, then ...". "No!", I interrupted, "First you turn the dial to the right.". "No, to the left" insisted DB. Quite a disagreement ensued between the two of us as to which way you first turn the dial on the combination lock. It ended in a bet as to who was right, the loser having to treat the winner to a weekend - providing the dates and paying all costs of transportation, meals, entertainment. With such high stakes for two essentially-broke students, we left the game and all three of us raced to the locker room.

At the locker I commanded DB: "Baker, sit down and open that lock". He sat down on the bench, took the lock in his left hand, and placed his right hand on the dial. Then he closed his eyes and groaned "Oh No!". I had won the bet.

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So DB owed me a weekend. At the time I did not have a girlfriend but he did, a student at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. DB had graduated from Heidelberg the previous spring; it was now late in the spring semester at Michigan, so DB suggested a weekend trip to Ohio at the end of the semester at Heidelberg. He enlisted his girlfriend, Peg, to find a date for me. Peg arranged for her friend, and fellow Heidelberg student, Jean Leibengood, to be my date for the weekend.

Off we went in late May 1959 to spend the weekend in and around Tiffin, Ohio. Final exams at Heidelberg were over and the students were essentially free before departing campus for the summer. DB still had friends at the college and arranged for us to crash in one of the dorm rooms, which we did Friday and Saturday nights. We arrived in Tiffin Friday afternoon and Peg introduced Jean and me. The four of us had dinner and spent the evening together, with Jean and me getting to know each other; DB and I retired to the dorm room at a reasonable hour, as the girls had to be back in their dorm by a certain time.

The next day (Saturday) the four of us spent the day on the shore of Lake Erie, complete with swimming, picnic, etc. Then in the evening DB said that Peg had most of her dorm late minutes left for the semester (each girl had 15 late minutes per semester), so she and DB would make use of those. DB gave me the key to the dorm room, noting that "you will get back before I do". Jean and I were on our own. But that was not a problem, as the two of us were getting along beautifully. And, as it turned out, Jean had ALL of her late minutes left. We used all of those late minutes, and maybe a few more (but the house mother let Jean in anyway, since it was the last day of the semester). As I got back to the men's dorm DB is pacing outside the room. "Where have you been? I'm locked out and have been waiting for quite a while for you to return with the key." "Well", I said, "I guess Jean had more late minutes than Peg."

The next day DB and I helped the girls' get their things together to leave campus for the summer - Peg to her home in upstate New York and Jean to her home in Bloomville, Ohio, a few miles south of Tiffin. Then in the afternoon we had to leave to return to Ann Arbor, for classes the next day. Jean and I had hit it off great and agreed to stay in touch; I said I would try to make it down to Ohio sometime in the summer.

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Later in June I took a weekend off my summer job south of Ann Arbor and headed for Ohio. Jean said that she would be working an afternoon auction in the country near Bloomville (her father was the auctioneer) and gave me the directions to the auction. I showed up and watched the auction for a while from the periphery. Jean was assisting the auctioneer whom I assumed was her father - I hadn't yet met her parents - as was another woman that I later learned was her mother. After a while Jean noticed I was there and came over when there was a break in the auction. She worked a the auction a while longer, then her father suggested she leave and spend time with me. I met her parents more formally later that afternoon at her house, where we had dinner and I spent the night.

The next day, Sunday, we had breakfast at the house then wandered off on our own, including a swim at a nearby lake. In the afternoon I had to return to Michigan and work the following day. But before leaving we agreed to get together again soon.

I spent two more weekends in Bloomville that summer. By the end of that third trip we were engaged, though no one else would know for several months. The bet had really paid off

Jean and I were married two years later, a month after she graduated from Heidelberg and one year to the day after DB and Peg were married. As of the date of this writing Jean and I have been married 50 years, with two children and three grandchildren. But there's a twist to this story.

Several months before the bet DB invited me to accompany him to a Heidelberg College Choir performance - the choir was on tour at a church somewhere in the area. Peg was a member of the Choir. Apparently there was some question amongst Choir members, including Jean, who was also a member of the Choir, as to "Who is that guy with DB?". So, I'm told, Peg had no problem finding a date for me when I won the bet. (For all I know the bet was a Choir member scheme and DB was paid off to lose it. :) -jlw