Darlene and Bob McMichael
Darlene McMichael remembers the date: July 21, 1961 – the last day of summer school. Sprung at noon, she and a friend decided to celebrate with a picnic in the park.
“Mom reminded us not to talk to any strange guys and to be careful,” Darlene said.
They were walking past the Rose Garden when, as she recalled, “a very handsome young man passed by, and we smiled and said hello.”
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Bob McMichael, stationed at McChord Air Force Base, had a new camera and was taking pictures of flowers to show his mother in Indiana what a beautiful park Tacoma had.
“I looked up the path and saw two nice-looking girls coming toward me,” he said. “One was a redhead, and the other had long, dark, shining hair. The one with the beautiful long hair gave me a big grin and said ‘Hello’ as they passed.”
So much for not talking to any strange guys.
Darlene and her friend walked over to the duck pond.
“Being shy, I didn’t know what to say to break the ice,” Bob said. “Then this goofy looking bird came waddling up out of the water and I blurted out, ‘Is that a goose or a duck?’”
“With an opening line like that, I couldn’t resist,” Darlene said.
They chatted about his job in the Air Force and how she and her friends skated most Saturdays at King’s Roller Rink.
As soon as the girls left, all three young people realized they had failed to exchange names and numbers.
“I kept wishing there would be some way I could see the young man again,” Darlene said.
She could not very well hang out at McChord. But he could hope she would go skating.
Three weeks later – he’d had to work the intervening two Saturdays – he sat across the street from King’s.
They talked. They skated. They visited Point Defiance whenever they had the chance. Naturally, they fell in love.
On Valentine’s Day 1963 they married, and have stayed that way for 42 years.
By the way, it was a goose.
If you have personal stories or memories about the park you'd like to share, contact columnist Kathleen Merryman at email@example.com.