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As We Children Heard… By Barbara Allen Randle (1997)

It was the summer of 1939 that Jimmy Allen and Elise Ford met, fell in love, and wanted to be married.

Elise F. and James O. Allen

“Mother is never going to say yes,” Elise cried to Jimmy. “Well, we’ll just have to elope,” said Jimmy. “Tomorrow, I will pick you up, and we’ll be married,” …hoping for once his car would start and keep running.

Tomorrow came . . . Elise waited . . . no Jimmy. A few hours later, she heard the backfire of his car. She ran to the window and yelled happily, “Jimmy’s here!” “Who did you say was here?” Elise’s mother said while grabbing the first thing she saw to throw at Elise’s beau. It was an antique vase. Mumbling to herself, she continued, “I’ll teach that country boy never to show his face around here again.” Before Elise could stop her, she was snatching open the front door with a gleam in her eye and said, “May I help YOU. . . mister no wearing shoes?”

“I came to get Elise; we want to be married,” Jimmy said nervously, looking down at his brand-new shoes.

Elise knew she wasn’t getting past the front door with her mom on guard and went out the back door of the house, making her way to his car unbeknownst to the both of them.

“Mrs. Ford, please understand; I mean no disrespect,” Jimmy said with bravado. “I am asking for your permission, but we will be married whether you approve or not.” Out of the corner of his eye, Jimmy noticed that Elise was trying to get the door open to the car and let out a deep breath. He said in a calmer voice, “Okay, Mrs. Ford, I’ll be leaving now.” He ran down the steps and sprinted to his car.

Mrs. Ford stepped out onto the porch, saw that Elise was in the car, and yelled out, “Come back here boy! If I catch you, I’ll snatch you bald-headed.”

In the car, Elise looked out the back window and saw her mother running after it. “Hurry Jimmy, here she comes!” The car started, ran a couple of blocks, and died. Jimmy got out and started pushing it toward the hill. But Mrs. Ford was there in the wink of an eye with weapon in hand. With the precision of an arrow, she hit Jimmy on the back of the head with the vase. Down he went. He sat on the curb rubbing his sore head while Elise’s mother dragged her back to the house.

Every week, all summer long, Jimmy knocked on the Ford door asking for Elise. Most of the days, they made it to the car, but it continued to break down, and Elise’s mom was right there chasing after it, like a sprinter, bringing her daughter back home. Then on the first week of December that same year, Elise thought they would finally make it, as Jimmy told her as they ran to his car, “I got it fixed.”

Mrs. Ford stood on the porch, watched them get into the car, and drive off. She knew that the car wouldn’t make it a couple of blocks, so she leisurely started following it. However, that car kept on going, and she stood with her hands on her hips and watched as it left the neighborhood. As she walked back to the porch, her husband, Cecil, was sitting on one of porch steps with a big smile on his face. She sat down next to him and said, “If it would have stopped this time . . . I would have helped them push that piece of JUNK!” And the rest we know is history . . .