The Love of My Life

by Billy Norman

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I had been back from Vietnam about a month when I first saw Sandy Wagner at a Friday night dance at the Spearfish Park Pavilion. I was with Johnny Johnson. I watched her dance for a while and wow could she dance. I tapped the guy she was dancing with on the shoulder. After a few dances, he tapped me back on the shoulder and I told him to go away. What I didn't know was she had been the Spearfish High School Homecoming Queen just that night. The guy with her was the Marshal. After we danced some more she said she needed to use the bathroom. She was trying to get away from me. I waited outside the women's bathroom forever. She was waiting in the bathroom for me to go away. She finally gave up and came out. We danced some more.

I asked her if she would give me a ride to Belle Fourche. She finally agreed. I had a brand new 1969 SS Chevy Camero in the parking lot. I found my sister, Lane, gave her the keys and asked her to take my car home. When we got to my house I pointed over the hill into our gravel pit. We went down there and we parked and I fell asleep. Sandy had noticed a Norman Gravel Sales sign we had passed. She stopped there opened the side door and pushed me out on the driveway and she drove away.

The following week I called her in Spearfish and asked if she could go for a ride. She said no, that her hair was up in curlers. I talked her into it anyway. Somehow, when I got there her hair was all magically fixed and looked great. We started dating steady after that.

Sandy and Billy About a month later I asked her to marry me and she accepted. I gave her an engagement ring. We were to be married in June. A couple of times during that winter, I had seen another girl. I got scared that I was not ready for marriage, so on May 3rd her birthday, I asked for my ring back. It didn't go over very well. After she graduated, Sandy and her best friend Cindy Collins went to Portland and then to Reno. Sandy got a job in Reno with the Police Dept. as a clerk typist and was living with her Uncle Whitey Wagner.

I moved to Denver and went to work for my Uncle Bob Guildner. I decided I missed Sandy very much and wanted her back. I spent 3 months, June, July & August calling and writing her. She would hardly answer my letters or take my phone calls. I found out she was dating one of those Reno cops.

I found Jim Sorenson, my best friend from high school, working in a dive in downtown Denver. I asked Jim if he would go to Reno with me. He said yes, so I traded my SS Camaro in on a new 1969 440 Magnum RT Charger. It was Labor Day weekend. We drove straight thru to Reno. Jim Rented a cheap hotel room and I went over to Sandy's uncle's house. She didn't know I was coming. When I knocked she jumped into my arms. WOW!!

She had the next day off and I was reading an old hard bound western of her uncle's (which I still have to this day). She came out on the porch where I was reading and we talked about getting married. I said, "Let's get married in 60 days." She hemmed and hawed so I said 30 days. She said, "Why not today?" I couldn't see why not so I said "Okay." Then I said that we couldn't today because it was a Holiday, Labor Day. Sandy headed for the phone, I knew right then and there that I was had.

The Court House said they would be open until noon, less than an hour away, for us to get our marriage license. We barely made it but we got our license. We then went to her girlfriend's house (she worked with her) and picked her up. We went downtown and got Sorenson out of bed. He never could get up before noon. We needed both of them to stand up with us. We drove around and found Chapel of the Bells and Reverend Love married us. I always told Sandy that a Reverend with the last name Love couldn't be real and we were not legally married. She says by now it's a common law marriage. Sorenson said he didn't want to be with us Love Birds, so he decided to stay in Reno. He stayed about 5 years. He worked for Harrah's as a mechanic on slot machines.

Most of our arguments were one-sided, I did the arguing and she made amends. After about 6 years, we went to my 10 year class reunion at Max's in Belle Fourche. I thought she was having way too much fun and dancing too much. Sandy and BillyI got jealous and asked her to come outside with me. She walked over about 20 or 30 feet away. I said, "Sandy, come over here." She said, "You Son of a bitch, if you want to talk to me, you come over here." Wow, did she put me in my place. Needless to say our arguments were not one-sided after that.

Sandy and I have had a lot of ups and downs in the last 41 years. The last 20 years have been the best. I have slowed down. Money use to be my driving factor but it's not as important now. We have been rich a couple of times and broke a couple of times. We have had an exciting life. We lived in Colorado, South Dakota, 13 years in Alaska, back to South Dakota, moved to Arizona but hated the heat, moved to Gillette, Wyoming near our daughter, Chipper, and now we are in Lead, South Dakota and we love it.

I am all set to be with her for another 41 years. Sandy, you are the love of my life.

Your husband, Billy