published Friday, December 16th, 2011

Leber: Looking for Laura - A search for a lost love

When you write a column in which you divulge certain details of your love life, you can expect strangers to return the favor.

So I wasn't thrown for too much of a loop when a gentlemen named Frank called me up last Friday to tell me about the woman that got away. Her name was Laura, he said, and he hasn't seen her since 1978.

She was about 19 back then, brown hair, brown eyes, slender build.

"She was a good girl," he said. "I could tell she was a good girl. She was a lawyer's daughter."

He was 29, a truck driver for a beer distribution company. They met at Eckerd drugstore downtown, where she worked. He took her out for New Year's, to a club called The River's Edge.

"We always got along great," he said. "She really liked me, even though I was 10 years older than her. She was a very, very pretty woman."

They went out to a nightclub -- Dino's on Broad Street -- and she laughed at his jokes.

"I realized later on that I passed up a good thing," he said. "A lot of us let some good people slip through our fingers."

Eventually, he met someone else, and his brief romance with Laura ended. It was his fault, he said. Things didn't work out with the other girl, Frank said, but by then, Laura had moved on. "I think she got pregnant and had a kid or two," he said.

They last saw each other was in the parking lot of Jax's Liquor Store on Market Street. He was making a delivery; she was making a purchase. Their relationship had ended, but she walked over to talk to him.

"That was the last time I saw her," he said.

Frank married not long after that, in 1979 or 1980, he said, and had a son. He divorced in 1988, and has been single ever since. He is 62 now. He drives a truck for a chemical company in Cleveland and lives in Ooltewah.

Many times over the years, he said, Laura has crossed his mind.

"She's a person you can't forget. You wonder about people as you get older, what they're doing."

Lately, he said, he's been thinking of Laura more. The last few months, the memories have been coming more frequently.

He knows reconnecting is a long shot. But he wanted to take it.

"I'm dreaming," he said. "I know I'm dreaming."

"If I could see Laura," Frank said, "I'd give her a big hug and definitely give her a big smile. I'd just like to say hi to her. It would just be really good to see her."

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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