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Remembering Mary Ann...Sixteen Forever

Story ID:6774
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Location:Dillon MT USQ
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Remembering Mary Ann Hansen – Sixteen Forever
By Chuck Dishno
Copyright 2005

When I was in my Freshman year at Bly School I was more interested in working than most anything else with the possible exception of duck hunting or fishing. This included girls. It wasn’t that I had anything against the opposite sex, after all they were awfully nice to look at but I was just too shy to make any attempts at trying to get a date. I didn’t come about this shyness naturally.

When I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade, my brother, Bud, was home on furlough and asked me if I had a girlfriend. When I said I did, he wanted to see a picture of her. There was a girl in my class who was very nice and I was attracted to her. I think her name was Edith but I’m not sure. I pointed her out to Bud and he laughed and kidded me saying she was the homeliest thing he had ever seen. I will admit, in retrospect, she wasn’t too pretty but to me she was beaautiful. I remember crying and vowing I would never tell anyone about any girl I had an inkling for. This stayed with me for most of my school years. I guess my brother was right but he sure left an indelible mark on my outlook.

I do remember one girl in Bly who all the boys craved and would do anything to date her. For privacy reasons she will remain unnamed. When I was in my freshman year, and the Freshman/Sophomore prom was looming on the horizon, I got up enough nerve to ask her to the prom. I waited for her outside the classroom until I saw her about to enter. I cornered her and told her I wanted to talk to her. She reluctantly agreed and we both stood in the hall and I swallowed my pounding heart and asked her for a prom date. I will never forget her reaction. She laughed out loud and said, “Why would I want of date you?” She then turned and went into the classroom and told all the other girls what had happened. I could hear them laughing and when I walked in all eyes were on me. That was the most humiliating experience in my life. I lived it down though and vowed to stay away from girls forever.

Little did I know that the next year, a beautiful girl named Mary Ann Hansen would move from Klamath Falls to live with her dad and stepmother in the house right behind mine. I didn’t pay too much attention to her but we would talk on occasion and she was very pleasant. Nothing developed for a few months since I was still more interested in working and hunting than anything else. I was a projectionist at the Arch Theatre and worked six nights a week. This combined with hunting and fishing, didn’t leave much time for dating, so it never entered my mind, or if it did, it was just a passing thought.

My mode of transportation then was a Cushman Motor Scooter that I bought from Budge Jackson and I was always putting around on that contraption. I remember coming home from school and my mom would have my shotgun or fishing pole waiting by the back door. All I would have to do was hop on the scooter and head for the fields. I would have to be back by 6 or so to get the movie ready to run. I would drop off the ducks or fish, depending on the season, at the back door, grab a sandwich and head for the theatre.

This all changed one night when the popcorn girl, Irene Morris, didn’t show up so I was making popcorn and training Doyle Miller to run the projectors. This was his first night alone in the projection booth but I promised him I wouldn’t let him down and would be there when he needed me.

About the time I got the first batch of popcorn made and was about to make a second, I turned and there, standing next to me, was my neighbor, Mary Ann. We talked a few minutes and it wasn’t long before she indicated that she would like to sit with me. Who was I to turn down such an opportunity? I told her to sit in the back row and I would get Doyle started and be down soon. I turned the popcorn duties over to the cashier, Olive Hall, and headed upstairs to tell Doyle of my plans. Needless to say he wasn’t too thrilled but I assured him that I would be right downstairs in the back row and if he needed help, just to stick his head out of one of the portholes and yell for me.

As soon as the movie started and I got Doyle situated, I went down with my heart in my mouth and found Mary Ann. It wasn’t too long before I heard Doyle’s voice hollering, “Help, Stub”! I excused myself and ran upstairs to bail him out. I soon returned and sat down again beside this beautiful girl. This happened about 3 or 4 times that evening and I made many trips up those stairs. About the 2nd return trip, I got up nerve enough to reach over and hold Mary Ann’s hand. That sealed it. She was so soft and smelled so nice, Like one of my fish, was hooked. To heck with fish and ducks, I had found something much nicer and smelled a whole lot better.

When the movie was over, I went back upstairs and got Doyle situated and told him I would be back soon. I had asked Mary Ann if I could walk her home and she readily agreed. We took the long way home (if there was such a thing in Bly) and when I got her to her back porch I told her how much I enjoyed the evening and wanted to see her again. She said that she wanted to see me too and when I tried to kiss her she refused, saying she never kissed on the first date. We made up for it later.

It wasn’t long before we were going steady and were the talk of Bly School. Still, with that old fear of someone in my family, namely my brother Bud, would laugh of make fun of me so, I never told them I was dating the neighbor girl. I think my mom knew something was going on since I had abandoned my shotgun and fishing pole by the back door. That combined with the fact that she didn’t have to pick and clean all those ducks and geese, surely was a relief to her.

Mary Ann liked to ride on my scooter and we would go all over. My dad had a 1947 Oldsmobile and when we went on a real date I would borrow his car. Onetime we were driving out toward Campbell Road. I had my right arm around Mary Ann and when I turned onto the road, a car was just trying to pass me on the left. Since I had my right arm busy and trying to turn and shift with my left arm, I didn’t signal for the turn. Remember, those were the days before turn signals and you had to use hand signals. The car was from Lakeview and was in a hurry to get back home. He smashed into the side of the Olds and crushed in the driver’s door. Mary Ann was worried that my dad would be furious with my carelessness. I assured her that he wouldn’t say much if anything at all.

After calming down the other driver, we turned around and went home. I parked in my driveway and walked Mary Ann to her door. I then went into my house and found my dad in bed. I woke him up and told him what I had done. He just said, don’t worry about it and nothing more was said. He never even got out of bed to look at the damage. What a man! Mary Ann was really impressed and said her dad, Bob, could take lessons from my pop.

We did much more than go to the movies and neck though. I talked her into going duck hunting with me and after the first time she was hooked. We had many good times out in the fields, waiting for a bunch of ducks or geese to fly by. We would usually sit under one of Basil Hall’s haystacks and drink hot chocolate to keep warm with the occasional kiss.

One time we were sitting there and a large flock of Canadian Honkers was bearing down on us. Mary Ann didn’t have a shotgun so she just sat back and watched me. As soon as they flew over I shot three times and saw two fall. I was about to go get the downed birds when Mary Ann said she saw a third one fall. I didn’t see it but I said, “If you think there is another one out there, you go get it.”

Mary Ann jumped at the chance and ran into the field. In a couple of seconds, a huge honker jumped up and began running away from her. It had a broken wing and couldn’t fly so it wasn’t long before she caught up with it and tackled that poor goose. Now, Mary Ann was a very small girl with tiny hands and when she got that goose by the neck, all hell broke loose. The goose was beating her with that bloody stub of a wing and she was trying desperately to hold him off. She hollered over to me to help her but I was having too much fun watching the fight. I just said, “Get a good hold on his neck and wring it.” She took my advice but had never wrung the neck of a bird before. She put both of her small hands around the neck and began to wring it like you would a dishrag. Needless to say the goose wasn’t too happy about the situation and I was laughing my head off. I could see the poor goose with its head hanging down and its tongue sticking out trying to make honking noises. Mary Ann was getting the worse of the deal, so I ran to her rescue and grabbed the goose by the head and gave it a couple of twists which promptly sent his soul to that big Goose Flock in the sky. She was proud of her accomplishments and wanted to head home to show off her trophy. What a girl!

Mary Ann and I went together for about a year or more when our relationship began to cool off. We still did many things together such as ice skating and hunting but weren’t seeing each other as often. I was back to working far too much and she dated other boys on occasion. She soon moved back to Klamath Falls to live with her mother. I would see her every so often when she would come back to Bly for a visit or I was in Klamath.

In retrospect, I wish, with all my heart I had perused our relationship more aggressively. I know we still had strong feelings for each other but things just didn’t work out.

I started dating a girl named Rose, and one day Mary Ann approached me and asked me to take her for a drive out Campbell road. When we reached the Campbell ranch she indicated she wanted to resume our relationship. We started dating again but after a few months things began to cool off again.

In my junior year, the school held its annual Junior Prom. Mary Ann came from Klamath to attend. We originally had a date for the prom but it didn’t materialize and we went separately. As a lot of the boys did then, I had found a bottle of whisky and a case of beer. I had them out in my car behind the gymnasium and promptly got drunk. I remember going into the gym near the end of the dance and danced the last dance with Mary Ann. I even got to kiss her goodnight. Little did I know that that would be our last kiss.

I don’t know where I went but I remember waking up in my bed the next morning and my mom telling me that the nice girl next door had been killed that night.

Mary Ann had gone home and borrowed her uncle’s car. She had just turned sixteen and had recently gotten her drivers license. Mary Ann and two other girls were driving out to the Campbell ranch when she hit the approach to a bridge and the car rolled over killing her almost instantly and injuring the other two girls. This was a shock to the little town of Bly and changed my life forever. It was many months before I could make myself drive out Campbell road.

Mary Ann’s funeral was held a few days later in Klamath Falls. Her mother asked me to be a pallbearer along with 5 other Bly boys. School was let out for the day and all her friends attended. I remember how beautiful she looked and she was buried in her formal that she wore that fateful night. Very few things in my life have touched me as much as the relationship with my beautiful Mary Ann.

I remember, Mary Ann attended the Christian Missionary Alliance Church when in Bly and they had a service for her naming one of the Sunday school rooms “The Mary Ann Hansen Room”. It was said that that room would always bear the remembrance of her. I was saddened to find out a few yeas ago that the room no longer honors her memory. I guess people tend to forget. I know I never will.

After graduating in 1954 I left to work in the woods falling trees with my dad. After a short time I realized that there was no future in that for me so I started going to college. I eventually married and had a couple of kids but the memory of Mary Ann never left me. I have always felt that she was there looking out for me. I like to refer to her as my Guardian Angel.

After about 12 years my wife divorced me and a couple of years later, I married my present wife, Rosalind, a beautiful Chinese lady. We have been married for about 40 years now and I feel that Mary Ann might have had something to do with finding such happiness and joy in this lady for me.

Even though we live many miles from Klamath Falls, we go back there every couple of years and one of the first things I do is to visit Mary Ann’s grave and place some flowers on her headstone. Her parents, Bob and Bertha are buried with her now and since there were no other siblings, I am probably the only one who is a regular visitor. I carry her picture in my briefcase and the thought of her is never far from my mind. Even though it’s been over 51 years since that fateful night, a trip to Klamath Falls would not be complete without a trip to the cemetery to visit her grave. It is the least I can do.

About 20 years ago, Roz and I were living in Fresno, California when we decided to take a trip on Amtrak to Vancouver, BC. We had round trip tickets in a bedroom car and the trip up was uneventful, but something occurred on the return trip that really shook me up.

We left Seattle late in the afternoon and most of the trip was at night. Those bedroom cars are very small and had upper and lower births.

We had gone to bed early and it must have been about midnight when something woke me up. I sat up in bed and had the most incredible urge to look out the window. Since I was in the upper berth I used the ladder to climb down, and not wanting to wake up Roz, I sat in the chair for a few minutes. Soon the urge came over me to look out the window again. When I parted the heavy curtains, I could see it was a bright moonlight night and as soon as my eyes got adjusted to the night, I couldn’t believe what I saw. We were just passing the cemetery where Mary Ann is buried. If I had been a few seconds later, I would have missed it, but I could see it plainly in the light of the full moon. What and incredible feeling! I can only imagine that something bigger than me had prompted me to look out the window at that exact minute. All I could do was sit back and reflect on what had happened. I know I did not dream this and it is as real to me now as it was then. Mary Ann had to be there.

As soon as Roz woke up I told her what had happened. I think I was still sitting in the chair. She agreed with me that something incredible had indeed happened. It certainly gives a person faith in the life in the beyond.

Hopefully sometime in the future Roz and I will meet up with Mary Ann again and find out for sure. I most certainly will thank her for picking my wonderful and understanding wife, Rosalind.

To this day, I keep a picture of Mary Ann, along with one of my Mom and Roz, in a pocket notebook in my shirt pocket. These are my three favorite people in the world and I won’t go anywhere without them.