In 1965, an innocent 15-year-old girl and shy 18-year-old young man had their first date at the McDonald’s on Johnson Road.
50 years later, those same kids can still be found in the same booth, ordering the same meal.
Robert and Sharon Kay first met at church when she was 12 and he was 15. Robert says he dismissed her friendliness and shied away from her, thinking she was too young. Sharon, on the other hand, knew there was something special about this young man. During the next three years, Sharon kept her eye on the shy young man.
“My favorite song was teen idol Leslie Gore’s hit ‘(I Want to be) Bobby’s Girl,’” she says.
April 22, 1965, was their first official date, where they shared an order of fries, dunking them in a “ketchup dunk cup” (costing a whopping 3 cents extra at the time).
“Bobby’s Girl” became their song.
Sharon’s mother, Eva Pulley, said marriage would not happen until Sharon was 18, but she still sewed the couple matching outfits to wear to church and on their dates, sensing a special bond.
While serving in the military, Robert sent Sharon a special Mother’s Day gift – an engagement ring. “I want you to be the mother of my children someday,” the letter stated.
The wedding took place on Eva’s birthday, Sept. 7, 1968. They raised two sons, Ron and Jim Kay. Ron resides in this area and is married to Stacey with two daughters, Ashlyn and Abbie. Jim lives in Chicago.
Recently, Robert wrote to Jimmy Williams, owner of the Johnson Road McDonald’s, telling his romantic story about the destiny of that first date 50 years ago. He told of how each year they celebrate that first date by going to McDonald’s, sitting in that same booth, and ordering the same order of fries. They bring their own “dunk cup,” since their availability is a thing of the past. The date is celebrated with them still feeding each other fries, as much in love as they have been throughout all these years.
Williams and his office manager, Karen Marshall, were so touched by the story that they contacted the Kays. When the couple came in for their date that night, General Manager Beth Southerland prepared their booth with a tablecloth, flowers and candlelight, with a sign hanging above the booth reading, “Reserved for Mr. & Mrs. Kay.”
The best surprise, however, was that their son Jim had traveled a 12-hour train ride to share the date with them.
Robert, now 70, and Sharon, 65, were also featured in a McDonald’s corporate newsletter.
The couple has seen three stores built on the site, but to them it is the same restaurant, the same booth … and the same love that blossomed in 1965.