Bob Tallent went to just about every honky tonk in Ripley, Ohio, before he found the girl he was looking for. She was walking down the street with her younger siblings in front of the boardinghouse where he was staying.
Bob, who had just turned 21, was stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio. He had a three-day weekend coming up and his friend Glen set out to convince him that he should take him home to Ripley.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: “He was sitting in a chair in the living room of the boardinghouse.”
He says: “She was walking down the street, taking her little sister and two of her brothers to the doctor.”
On our wedding day:
She says: “I was just trying to keep the family from fighting.”
He says: “She and I went to Maysville, Ky., to pick up the flowers for the wedding, but while we were there the ice got bad and they closed the bridge and we couldn’t get back right away.”
My advice for a long happy marriage is:
She says: “Just let him think he’s the boss.”
He says: “It’s definitely a two-way thing. I didn’t make any decisions that I didn’t make with her.”
"Since I had a 1955 Ford, which was a pretty new car in those times, and he didn't have any transportation, he told me that there were all kinds of girls down there and all we had to do was go down there and they would be falling all over me," Bob says.
Glen's mother-in-law owned a boardinghouse in Ripley, so Bob had a place to stay.
"The first thing he did was take me down the strip down there in Ripley and back then there were a lot of honky tonks down along the strip. I saw right away that was not my cup of tea," he says. "When we got through with all of that and got back to the boardinghouse I saw Evie."
It was the next morning, and he was sitting on the front porch when he first saw Evelyn Wayson, a senior in high school, ushering her little sister and brothers down the street to the doctor's office.
Evie, as he calls her, worked at the boardinghouse. She had heard there would be a young man coming to stay that weekend, so she volunteered to work extra hours.
"When I got there he was sitting there and I just took one look at him and I knew he was the one," Evie says. "I don't know why, but I knew he was the guy."
The next day, a Sunday, he invited her to go with him to Coney Island, an amusement park near Cincinnati. They went up with friends, probably in separate cars.
"I don't remember the details," he explains. "All I remember is that she was with me."
He had to report back for duty the day after that, but he returned every other weekend to visit.
"I would leave Ripley at 11 o'clock on Sunday night when she had to go to bed and I would get to my base at about 5:30 in the morning," he says.
In November, just after she turned 18, Evelyn and her mother got into an argument. Evelyn threw down the gauntlet: She said that Bob had asked her to marry him and she hadn't yet given him an answer. Her mother called her bluff, ordering her to write a letter to Bob with a response to his proposal.
"Her mother thought that would run me off, but she just didn't understand that she was in the middle of something that you just couldn't stop," Bob says. "When I got that letter I thought, well, that's what I was going to ask anyhow."
Bob had suggested they wait to marry until she graduated from high school a few months later, but he left the final decision up to her. She didn't want to wait.
They exchanged their vows on Dec. 29, 1956, in front of her family's home.
Evelyn's family was there as well as two of Bob's buddies from the base.
He found them a shotgun house to rent, and they furnished the three rooms for $113.
"You can imagine what that furniture looked like," Bob quips.
They also brought in a three-burner stove that his mother had used in her travel trailer, and a new refrigerator, although it had a dent in the side from where Bob and his friend dropped it when they got it off the truck.
They were transferred to a base in Tennessee not long after that, which closed and left Bob with the choice of being discharged or transferring to Indiana.
He opted for discharge.
"Evie wasn't all that excited about being a farmer's wife, but back then, wives seemed to go along with their husband's wishes, especially if there were not many opportunities available," he says.
Bob worked for his father on the farm until January 1960, when he went to work for Raytheon outside of Texarkana.
In 1962, they were moved to El Paso, Texas, for a new job with the missile system, and from there they were sent to Germany and then Indiana. After that they lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for 10 years, and then Hudson, N.H., Las Vegas and then back to Texarkana. Fouke is home now.
The Tallents have four children -- Terry Tallent of Little Rock, Robert Tallent of Fouke, Jenny Ehrig of Honolulu and Nita Tallent of Casper, Wyo. They also have six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, and they adopted two of Evelyn's brother's grandchildren after he died in 1990.
Evie went back to get her high school diploma about 10 years after they married. Bob supported her efforts, although he had thought from the moment he saw her that she was perfect for him.
"It was love at first sight," she says.
Bob agrees. "It really was."
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Bob Tallent and Evelyn Wayson went to Coney Island in Cincinnati on their first date in April 1956, and they had their photo taken by a vendor at the amusement park. “I didn’t realize it but she hated those things, but she went it on with me anyway,” he says.
High Profile on 09/02/2018
Print Headline: RIGHT TIME RIGHT PLACE: Believe it or not, they found love in Ripley, Ohio