TravelingMorgansBlog Working our way around the contiguous 48 states in our RV.

19. March 2016

How Phyllis and Larry Met in 1968

Filed under: Larry and Phyllis: Our Beginings — admin @ 09:04

I wrote a 7 episode story on Facebook, but wanted to add it here.

1968 Indiana University Episode 1.
48 years ago today, I was a Junior at Indiana University in Bloomington. I was tutoring a very pretty girl in Chemistry. Her name was Sue. She asked me how she could repay me. What happened from there changed my life forever.

1968 Indiana University Episode 2
48 years ago, as I was tutoring Sue in the lounge of her dorm, and she wanted to know how she could repay me, I told her she already had, as I always learn better when helping someone else (she got a B and I got an A), but she wanted to do more. I asked her to consider going out with me, but she said she was seriously dating a guy, and she only dated one guy at a time.

Sue suddenly looked extremely thoughtful.

“But”, Sue said, “there is a girl on my floor you might like to meet. I think you and she would hit it off. Her name is Phyllis.” More tomorrow.

1968 Indiana University Episode 3 — Phyllis Diller and the horse part 1

I told Sue I had no interest in being introduced to Phyllis Diller. She said, “No, I’m serious. I think you and Phyllis would hit it off quite well.” She used the floor phone to call her roommate Kristi to come down and confirm her thoughts. The 3 of us talked at some length, and I became a little more interested. I had been the butt of jokes in the past, and was afraid of being too gullible, but they really seamed sincere.

I told them if Phyllis agreed, I would call her. Sue said she would call after they talked to Phyllis.

Tomorrow you will learn about the horse.

1968 Indiana University Episode 4 — Phyllis Diller and the Horse part 2
After leaving Sue and Kristi, I went to my dorm. Sue and Kristi went upstairs hoping to see Phyllis. I will now give a little bit of what I learned later.

Sue and Kristi bounced into Phyllis’ room with big smiles.
“Phyllis” said Sue. “Have I got a boy for you to meet. His name is Larry and he has been tutoring me in Chemistry.”

“Well tell me more about him” was Phyllis’ response.
Sue smiled “He has NICE teeth.”
Phyllis looked puzzled while she thought “What is he, a horse?”.
Sue saw the puzzled look and said “Well, that’s important to me.”

SIDE NOTE: Anyone who knew Larry knew he had a mouthful of silver filings and had an overbite. Good teeth?

“Oh, he does not have much money”

They talked awhile longer, and Phyllis said, “Ok, have him call me tomorrow night at 7.” She thought “If he can’t afford to take me out, I will just give him the quick brushoff”.

Sue called me, and I agreed to call Phyllis the next night.
The next night was February 20.
Tomorrow’s episode will cover that call.

1968 Indiana University Episode 5, The First Phone Call

I actually called Phyllis at 7PM on February 20, 1968.

I am not sure how to describe a miracle or magic or both.
We talked for nearly 3 hours. At the end of that time it was like we had known each other and been good friends for many years.

She told me about her life including graduating from a catholic high school in 1965, Freshman year at a small college, sophomore year at IU Southeast, and IU this her junior year. She talked about the girls she ran around with in high school.

I told about my life where we lived at the corner of a school district as a kid, with baseball in another school district and Boy Scouts in a third. Different parts of my life had strictly different kids. I told her about high school being a little different, as I tried to jump in when there was a shortage of men to do volunteer work with kids. This included managing Little League teams 2 summers and serving as a very young assistant Scoutmaster . I told about my insane idea for getting through college in 3 years by taking my senior year of high school and freshman year of college simultaneously and working part time as well as the Boy Scouts. I had made it work but I had never been so busy.

I told her about my work at a Boy’s Club Camp the previous summer.
I told her I had skipped social fraternities in favor of a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, where I was the newsletter editor.
I told her I played guitar, with an interest in folk music.

We talked about our hopes and dreams for the future.
We both were preparing to be teachers.

It turned out we had taken a large (200-300 students) Physics class together the previous fall. Phyllis had sat with a group of girls, so I had never approached her.

We planned to go out on the coming weekend. Simon and Garfunkle were going to be in concert Saturday. I would try to get tickets. Phyllis told me there was a free film night at her dorm Friday night, Lord Jim.

We agreed to talk again the next night (Wednesday for well over two hours) and we would talk again on Thursday (for nearly 2 hours).

I will post again on February 23, 48 years after our first date.

1968 Indiana University Episode 6, The First Date

There is a lot to cover here. In the previous 3 days, Phyllis and I had talked for over 7 hours by telephone. Now we were going to meet. I went to the dorm at the appointed time, and used the lobby phone to call her at exactly the time scheduled. She told me what she was wearing and took the elevator.

Now, neither of us looked like the mental image we had of the other. So what? We each knew the other on the inside. We went into the cafeteria where Lord Jim was being shown. This was a 1965 film staring Peter O’toole about a man branded as a coward who sought to redeem himself. The book was written by Joseph Conrad and published in 1900. Jim succeeds in redeeming himself and is true to his internal idea of honor. In the end he makes another mistake and is given the chance to sneak away with the woman who loves him, but instead follows his own idea of honor and stays to face the firing squad. Any man or woman who attempts to live according to their own code and not someone else’s idea of right and wrong will have their heart wrenched. I had tears in my eyes at the end. I looked at Phyllis and she had tears flowing.

I asked Phyllis if she would like to take a walk to get some hot chocolate, about a mile away. She agreed. It was cold. Early February had been so warm most of the student body was sunbathing, but it was cold now. I had recently lost one glove, so I had to keep my left hand in my pocket, We talked, I told her about the East Hall fire (Music building). I had seen the glow and walked over to see building engulfed in flames. Some students had grabbed a fire hose. I joined them. Later, the fire department put ladders in the zero degree air and sprayed the fire from above. The wind blew the much of the water right down on me. When I realized my hair was now encrusted with ice, and so was my coat, I headed for the dorm looking like Frosty the IceMan (to this day I have never been so torn between rage and laughter at the absurdity of the situation). I just could not help myself. Standing around is not in my nature. I try to do what I think is right. Sometimes it backfires.

I sang to her one of songs I was trying to get right on the guitar. It was a somewhat romantic song called Gypsy Rover.

We grew closer in spirit,

After the cocoa and the walk back, she led me into to lobby area and we sat down and talked some more, And kissed. And talked some more, And communicated wordlessly until curfew.

There is a lot more of the story, But I think I will just give one more chapter within the next couple of days. I will summarize the rest of the story.

1968 Indiana University Episode 7, The Rest of the Story

I will see how far I get tonight. It may take longer.

First, if the story seams to emphasize what I shared with Phyllis more that what she shared with me, Phyllis is a very private person, and I respect her. I will only share what she agrees for me to share. She will share the details.

Now to continue. Saturday night was great seeing Simon and Garfunkle and hearing them sing “Mrs. Robinson” before it was ever played on the radio. I had to borrow a sports jacket. Phyllis looked radiantly beautiful.
We stopped at her dorm lobby for some talk and other things.

Sunday dinner was not provided at the dorms. Phyllis and I walked to a restaurant near campus, and afterward stopped in the dorm for more communicating without speaking as well as talking.

On Monday I saw Phyllis on campus, ran over and kissed her. She was shocked but not angry.

She saw or talked to each other nearly every day. There are many things to cover that I will simply skip at this time.

Let me just say that less than a month after that first phone call we were engaged. Since the Viet Nam war was raging and the likelihood was that I would be in the army after graduation, we decided to get married while still in college and we both would work. We set the wedding for August 31. She worked in Jeffersonville and I worked in Gary, That summer was hard.

I had always prayed to meet a girl that would love me as much as I would love her, but anyone who knew me in high school knew I was clumsy and inarticulate around girls and could never make my feelings known without putting my foot in my mouth.

Phyllis had gotten up at 5 AM every morning to go to early Mass to pray to meet the right husband. We laugh at not having met in the class we had together and picture the angels saying “Well, they blew it. What is plan B for getting them together?” Phyllis had been a novice in a convent. She took no vows and had left about the time I graduated from high school 18 months or so before we met.

Have Phyllis and I had fights and troubles? Of course. Our marriage has sustained our love. We meant it when we said “Till Death Do US Part”. This does require both parties making it their highest priority to stay together and grow closer.

We were both teachers in Indianapolis, and I was not drafted. There is another story here.
We do have two children. I think they are both ignoring this series and that is fine. They have heard the story often.

We planned for a dozen children, but also planned to review that after two. we stopped after two. We agreed Phyllis would stay home and raise children and I would earn a living. It soon became obvious I could not do this as a teacher. I eventually became a very good computer programmer and Systems Analyst.

If you want to see our lives since 2002, go to

and indeed the entire

There you find over 100 pages and thousands of pictures of our more recent adventures.

Right now, our travels appear to have ended. Phyllis has degenerative disc disorder and travel has been more and more painful the last 3 years. We are grateful for the 48 years we have had together so far, and the dozen years we have spent working our way around the USA.

Thank you for reading. Please share your stories as well.

Post Script:
I am not sure at what point Sue dropped out of the story. I tutored her through the end of the semester. I remember that she got a B and, because I leanred more while I tutored her, I got an A. She was not at the wedding and never gave Phyllis or myself her home address. I do not remember seeing her our senior year.

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