Dating old-school style

A popular place to go on dates in years past was the drive-in theater. There used to be a drive-in on Gratiot near the entrance to Wal-Mart.  Photo by Jayson Mellom/San Luis Obispo Tribune/TNS

A popular place to go on dates in years past was the drive-in theater. There used to be a drive-in on Gratiot near the entrance to Wal-Mart. Photo by Jayson Mellom/San Luis Obispo Tribune/TNS

Shellie Zamponi ‘15

Focus Editor

“You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, cryin’ all the time, you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog…”

Welcome to the older decades of dating.

Just imagine the ambiance back then-the era of Buddy Holly, Elvis, Diana Ross, “American Bandstand,” The Beatles. Some memories carry greasers, while others showcase disco. Cars were curvy with style, dancing was abundant, and so was the music. Everything was flowing and connected, in the moment.

“We went to drive-ins-I think the first one was Big Boy’s. There were drive-in movies. We danced at the Sock Hop, which was like a disco,” Kathleen Kirsch, this author’s grandmother, said.

She fondly remembers skating, “With friends, I used to roller skate around the neighborhood. The roller skates had steel wheels and went on your shoes. On Belle Isle, we could swim, go horseback riding and canoe.”

Kirsch recounted cruising around in her 1958 pink Oldsmobile.

There was also the Boblo Island boat which seems to be a fantasy nowadays. It was a very popular ferry in the 1970s that traveled down the Detroit River to a Cedar Point-like amusement park. Bands performed on the boat and people enjoyed dancing during the cruise.

Rocky Zamponi, this author’s grandfather, said, “Dating was a process of getting together with four or five different people. We would go to drive-ins and dances. I dated very little until I was 18 or 19 years old.”

Dating at an older age is a common consensus among many who grew up during a bygone era.

So what is different?

“Everything is faster,” Zamponi said. “People go out faster and do not stay together long. It’s not seeing one person, either. It could be a different person the next day.”

“In the past, boys were more respectful; no meant no,” Kirsch said.

Patricia Merlotti, circulation clerk at the Chesterfield Township Library, said, “Dating was more casual and carefree then. Now with the way society is, one needs to be more careful.”

Also, chivalry was alive and kicking, to a certain extent.

“Years ago [my husband] used to open the car door for me. When we went on a date, I used to tell him he had to open the door for me,” Kirsch said. “As soon as we got married, I told him you’re not going to do that anymore.”

A few things have stayed the same, though: having fun, secret loves and disastrous breakups.

“The first date I went on was when I was 12, in junior high,” Merlotti said. “I met a boy and secretly dated him. We would go roller skating at my church, until my mom found out and I had to return the ring he gave me. He broke up with me then.”

Through all of the dates and breakups, here is what dating ultimately leads up to: a love story.

On February 5, Rocky and Joyce Zamponi remembered the beginning of their love story.

Rocky was the bouncer at a bar-he has some pronounced Italian heritage in his looks, so I can only imagine him to look intimidating. He saw two girls and immediately wanted to take one of the girls home. However, it ended up with him taking the other girl out-my grandma.

They went out for coffee, and six weeks later, they were married.

“It was love at first sight,” he chuckled.

So this is what dating amounts to. This is what many hope for. No matter the age, the decade, the generation, most people are looking for that infinitesimal thing called love.