Retracing their steps: 64 years ago, Ollie and Helen Holter eloped to Hastings. Last week, they came back to visit
Nearly 64 years ago, Helen Cook and Ollie Holter pulled out a big map of Minnesota. They held hands, closed their eyes and moved their hands back and forth over the map. Slowly, they lowered their fingers, stopping when they felt the paper beneath their fingertips.
They opened their eyes and smiled.
All of a sudden, they knew where they were going to be married.
It was Hastings.
In a rainstorm, the couple jumped into Ollie's 1933 Chevrolet and drove to Hastings. They found a room at the Gardner Hotel, and then Ollie got to work on the phones. He found a Lutheran church here and called the minister.
"Would you be able to marry a couple today?" Ollie asked the minister named P.R. Kurth, who obliged.
"He told us where he lived," Ollie said last week. "We went over there and got married."
It was June 24, 1946.
After the brief ceremony, Ollie and Helen spent the night in Hastings. They took photos of one another on the Spiral Bridge, then left town on their honeymoon, eventually ending up in Chicago.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since their wedding here 64 years ago.
Last week, Ollie and Helen came back to visit for the first time since that wedding. They woke up early Thursday and rode down to Hastings from Golden Valley as their granddaughter, Sonia, and her husband, Tony, drove.
The foursome walked up and down the streets of downtown Hastings. They ate quesadillas and onion rings at the Levee Café, located not far from where Helen and Ollie had their photos taken on the Spiral Bridge. They toured the Spiral Bridge replica at Steve Bauer's farm south of Hastings and spent a romantic night at the Classic Rosewood Inn, a bed and breakfast here.
All the while, they reminisced about their wedding, about their careers, about Ollie's time in the service, about their four children, their grandchildren and about their marriage.
Spend time with them, and you'll realize the last 64 years have been good to the couple.
"We've had so much fun together," Helen said.
"We're very kind to each other," Ollie said. "She does this for me, and I do that for her."
The couple's children are encouraging Ollie and Helen to get out and explore their world. That encouragement led to the trip back to Hastings last week.
"We had always wanted to come back here," Helen said.
A jump start
While Helen and Ollie went to high school together at Miller Vocational in Minneapolis, their relationship needed a jump start. Literally.
Helen had been to Sears one February morning in 1946 when she bumped into Ollie. They got to talking, and he offered to give her a ride home in that 1933 Chevy. She took him up on the offer.
When he went to start the car, though, nothing happened.
Ollie got out and cranked it. And cranked it. Helen liked what she saw of Ollie standing in the cold trying to get the car to start. Finally, it fired up.
"I was very impressed," Helen said.
"That really did it for her," Ollie said.
Over the next few months, Ollie and Helen dated. By June, they figured it was about time to get married. Helen had a vacation from work planned and Ollie had some time off between jobs, so they decided to tie the knot.
On Saturday, June 22, Helen went to the courthouse. She got a marriage license and figured that while she was there, she'd get her driver's license, too.
"For $2.35, I got this guy, and a driver's license," Helen said.
That Monday, the 24th, Ollie and Helen headed to Hastings in that rainstorm. They were married later that day.
The low-key wedding in Hastings was low-key by design. They made a practical decision to save the money they would have spent on a wedding and invest it in a house at East 25th Street and 14th Avenue in Minneapolis. They took their savings and got a mortgage for $5,800 and started making their $42.91 mortgage payments.
The rest is history.