Vol. 14


A Secret Love Story

1965–1973; St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Teen Town was a lively hot spot in the ’60s — where teens would dance and hang out. I was fourteen at the time and was hanging out with my friends, watching an African-American dance group. There was one dancer whom I had my eye on. He was gorgeous, his wardrobe was unique, he could dance. It was obvious that I had a crush. My name is Debbi Thorpe, and this is my crazy, rebellious love story.

Suddenly that dancer was walking towards me! I couldn’t see, think, or even talk! My heart began to pound! I tried to smile, but I worried I had something stuck in my teeth. “Hey, my name is Leon,” he said.

Finally I took a deep breath. “Hi, my name is Debbi.” Leon and I talked for quite some time, and soon I felt like I could tell him anything. That day we decided to secretly date, because I was positive he could be “the one.”

We had to date secretly because in the 1960s races were still segregated. Our school forbade us to talk to each other. We met at Leon’s house, at the Fox Theater, and behind the school. We were tired of the rules that did not matter! Leon would tell me how people would treat him. I truly felt bad for Leon because he had to go through every day dealing with ignorant people just because of the color of his skin.

Four years later I was still dating Leon. I believed he was the one. One day I was at home in my room when suddenly my telephone began to ring. I picked it up. I scrambled to lock my door, and stretched the phone cord towards my closet as far as it could go. Leon began to speak. “Debbi, you’re the love of my life. My brother is married and he is happy with his wife, and I want that for us. What I’m saying is, Will you marry me?”

“Of course! A million times yes!” I said. We planned to have our wedding at the Normandy Justice of the Peace. It was, of course, also to be a secret.

The only people at the wedding were my friend Sharren and Leon’s friend Willy. The next day my mother called me. She had discovered our marriage through a newspaper article. My heart sank like the Titanic! I had to do something, so I called my father. I explained everything to him, and he decided to move me in with Leon.

Four great years later, Leon and I already had one son, Brent, and were expecting our second child. Our love story started as a secret, but would last a lifetime.

Meghan Thorpe, granddaughter of Debbi; Missouri, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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