With so many friendly boys at hand Mother was in a position to garner information and satisfy her curiosity, and she ascertained reassuring data concerning Bill’s antecedents. His father was a successful banker and a Christian gentleman so of course the son must be also. Consequently, when Bill invited me to an opera, he was annoyed to have me say I would have to “ask Mama.” He, a senior and about to leave the campus forever!
I was terribly excited when Mother gave her consent and Bill brought the score to “Tannhauser”. I played and sang it almost up to curtain time. However, the performance at the Auditorium was a decided letdown - too German and depressing for my fourteen year-old mentality. I may even have said as much for, almost overnight, Eric burst forth with a "You'll like Faust better, I think. How about it?” I agreed eagerly and, from then on, dates became a matter of my decision.
Eric was younger than Bill and our enjoyments together, up to then, had smacked more of high school than college, prankish and impulsive. Once we had entered an ad in a Personal Column calling for a young man to correspond with a small-town girl. Bill composed light-hearted carelessness and eagerly devoured the replies until the emotions of “Viola” boiled over and, in utter fright at what we had done, figuratively speaking, we put on the brakes and slid to such an abrupt stop that we were almost catapulted through the windshield. After that we quieted down and were circumspect for a while.
Eric was interested in odd people and sometimes he brought them to call on me. One we called the Sheriff of Nottingham wore several suits for padding in an effort to increase his stature. He quoted scripture by the bolt and said he intended to be President some day. Eric was fond of his soap-box orator type but being allergic to water was not so good. These folks had to be entertained out of doors.
Eric was inclined to be ironic. His taste for music seldom rose above the Stephen Foster level, but he loved poetry. He could be delightfully witty too, and we used to assume characters and act them out together. I was in a fever of excitement when the eventful night of the opera arrived. “Faust” was more to my taste than “Tannhauser” and I wept until my nose and eyes were red. When the last curtain was lowered and we elbowed our way out of the Auditorium, Eric suggested that we walk to the depot a mile or more distant. Eric was tall and loved exercise and I was game, though walking with Eric was a stunt because I had to insert an extra step every few feet. I did my best but when we arrived at the station after one o’clock the guard said, “Train just left, Miss.”