I met my future wife on January 23, 1954 at the Zenda Ballroom in Los Angeles. I was stationed in San Diego with the Navy and I would hitchhike to L.A. every weekend to spend time with my friend Gabe, who was from my hometown of Merced.
The night I met Juanita, she was with three couples at the Zenda. She had just broken up with a boyfriend so she was alone. We danced every piece together until she had to leave to be home by midnight. I asked for her phone number and she told me it was listed under her aunt’s name which was Rivera. I misunderstood and the next weekend I hitchhiked to the town of Rivera. My ride dropped me off in the town of Norwalk. Juanita told me she worked in a hospital admitting office so I called all the hospitals in Los Angeles but to no avail. Then I called all the hospitals in Orange County. In my calls I would ask if they had a Juanita (I didn’t know her last name) working in the admitting office.
The woman at St. Joseph’s in Orange said they did have someone named Juanita who worked in the admitting office. She gave me Juanita’s home phone number after I gave her a sob story. I called Juanita and her sister answered the phone. When I gave her my name and told her I was calling from Norwalk she called out to Juanita that some nut from Norwalk wanted to talk to her. (Norwalk had a mental hospital at the time.) I asked Juanita out but she had just had her tonsils removed and couldn’t go out. We agreed to meet the following Saturday at the Elks Club in Anaheim. Her brother’s company was having a dinner dance there. We hit it off real well and we danced all night.
Thereafter we would meet every weekend in Anaheim until I was discharged from the Navy 18 months later. We were married in Placentia on July 16, 1955. After our first meeting, Juanita said “well I guess I’ll never see that sailor again” Little did she know how determined I was to find her. We now have 5 grown children, 8 grandchildren and 1 step grandchild. We also have 4 great grandchildren.
I have always felt that fate and God brought us together that night at the Zenda Ballroom.