He was a tan, blue-eyed farm boy driving a muscle car. She was a city girl, with dark-brown hair that fell past her shoulders.
It was a Friday night in August 1967, and Steve Leaders swung his marine-blue Pontiac GTO into Ewald’s Drive-In Cafe in Council Bluffs.
He spotted her immediately.
Marge Davis wore a white, sleeveless, midriff blouse and sat behind the wheel of her parents’ green Chevy Impala with two of her girlfriends.
Marge was 18 and had just graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs. Steve was 20 and had graduated two years earlier from Underwood (Iowa) High and worked on his family’s farm.
Did she want to go for a ride, he asked.
She slipped into the passenger side of Steve’s Pontiac, a powerful car that could shoot from zero to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds.
But that night Steve pressed softly on the gas pedal as the pair cruised into Omaha, like a scene out of “American Graffiti.” In the 1960s, cruising was the social networking of the day, a four-wheeled Facebook that enabled young people from all over the area to meet.
On that first ride, with the windows down and the radio playing, the two talked about where they grew up, their high schools and families.
Marge felt comfortable with Steve. She liked his polite manner, how he opened the car door for her, how he asked her questions and didn’t just talk about himself.
A couple of hours later he dropped her off at home. He asked for her phone number, and called her for their first date, a pool party at a friend’s house.
One of Marge’s friends told her Steve was a good guy, but didn’t like to get serious.
But he did get serious, and a courtship began.
They attended concerts — grooving with the Beach Boys at Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium and rocking with Elvis at the Civic Auditorium. They hopped and spun during dances at the Danish Hall in Council Bluffs and the basement of Omaha’s Holy Family Church.
They dined on filets at Ross’ Steak House and loved going for picnics — sandwiches and iced tea — at Arrowhead Park in Neola, Iowa.
They spent hours and hours with each other’s families. Marge liked how Steve respected his parents, and would tackle any job they asked him to do on the farm. Steve liked how Marge showed that same respect to her mom and dad.
On an early spring day in March 1969, Steve and Marge married. Sleet fell that morning, but the clouds vanished and the sun broke through before the evening wedding.
They celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary this year. They live in Council Bluffs, where Steve is a drywall contractor. Marge is a realtor.
Like any marriage, there have been ups and downs, the couple says.
Their first child, a daughter named Jami, was born two months premature in 1970 and died. It was a great sorrow, the couple says. But Steve, 65, and Marge, 63, saw each other through it.
They were blessed with three other children, a son who lives in Council Bluffs and another in Minnesota, plus a daughter in Lincoln. Their first grandchild, a boy born six weeks premature, is now 3 years old and is “bouncy and healthy,” Marge says.
Steve and Marge still think about that summer night in 1967, how they were just two young kids who found each other.
Marge knows they are blessed they met and says simply, “He was meant for me.”
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