His father stopped the wedding. 50 years later, he discovers something shocking. Though often presented in books and movies, love at first sight is a rare occurrence for most, but one reallife couple knew the minute they locked eyes.
If they were soulmates, within weeks they were ready to commit to one another, for better or for worse. Janice Rude and Prentice Wilson met as undergraduates at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, in 1962, but shortly after announcing their engagement, the couple sadly split.
50 years later, they each uncovered the shock of their lives. Janice Rude came from humble beginnings. Raised to be a hard worker in the Wild West of Reno, Nevada, she recalls. Her father was a tough guy with a lot of street smarts. Though intellectual pursuits were beyond his care or comprehension, he supported his daughter in her desire to get an education.
She enrolled in Occidental College in the early 1960s in order to study for a bachelor’s degree in biology, but she never expected to meet the love of her life there. Occidental College is a small, private Liberal arts College located in Los Angeles, California.
The College was established in 1087 in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of La by a group of Presbyterians who wanted to learn in Southern California. The College Board considered turning Occidental into an all men school twice, once in 1912, and another time in 1931. Luckily for Prentice and Janice, the College’s co Ed status was maintained or they never would have fallen in love.
Given Janice’s modest means, she took up a job working the morning shift at the campus cafeteria in order to help her cover her private school tuition. Due toful and committed, she awoke early every day in time to start the morning grind. When she arrived at the cafeteria, she was immediately greeted by a flurry of activity as the athletes visited the canteen for breakfast before going off to their morning practice. Janice met many of the school’s small student body, but only one who really mattered. Printus Wilson was raised in a Welltodo family of East Coast transplants, a family of intellectuals.
He was expected to excel in his studies before moving on to a preeminent practitioner of some respected career such as law or medicine. He arrived at Occidental College a year after Janice Rood in 1962 and, in keeping with his upbringing, immediately pledged the fraternity campaign. Sigma, which became embroiled in controversy shortly after his arrival. School had only been in session a month, but Janice Rude was getting the hang of her job. She came in through the back entrance to the kitchen, hung her purse on a hook, and wrapped an apron around her waist.
She checked the scheduled stations pinned to the bulletin board in the back wall. Cereal station, her favorite. It was the least messy job. She hurried out to the counter and saw a young man waiting for service when her heart jumped into her throat. Prentice Wilson felt like he was settling into his freshman year of College quite well.
A month into the semester, he pushed himself to awake early in anticipation of going for a run before he began classes, he headed over to the dining hall and served himself a tray of eggs, bacon, and buttered toast. The cafeteria was just waking up and he was first in line. The morning waitress hurried over to help serve him. When their eyes met, Janice Rude and Prentice Wilson felt like time had stopped. As they looked into each other’s eyes for the first time, she felt a rush of blood rising into her cheeks, which to Prentice looked like sheer radiance.
Looking at her, he almost couldn’t breathe. She was so beautiful. Janice was taken as well, but in her bashfulness she broke from his gaze and looked down at his tray while completing the transaction. But Prentice was hooked. As Prentice continued his daily visits, he began to learn more about the pretty canteen girl who wouldn’t leave his thoughts.
He learned that she was a sophomore and later recounts, I actually didn’t think I had a chance with her. She was a year ahead of me and just so beautiful. But that still didn’t deter him from his visits, which he made every day at 06:00 a.m. Because I just wanted to see her and have our little morning exchange. But there was one day that Apprentice didn’t show up at the cafeteria.
It was just before Thanksgiving break, and though most students would be leaving the campus shortly, Prentice was nowhere to be found. Though the campus’s pre Thanksgiving dinner was not at their usual meeting time, Janice had expected him to be there while they conversed more freely. These days, they still had not spent any time together outside of the school’s canteen. When he failed to arrive, her heart sank. Janice joined Prentice and his family for Thanksgiving dinner before returning to Occidental College for the rest of the weekend.
Upon Prentice’s return to Los Angeles, the two were scarcely seen without each other, always strolling around the campus arm in arm. It was apparent to everyone who met them that the pair was made for one another. They were so in sync when they looked at one another, their eyes shone and neither could help but smile all the time. Such a whirlwind was their romance that Prentice decided in early December to ask Janice to marry him. He had known from the moment he laid eyes on her that we were simply meant to be.
Though they had only been going steady for a couple of weeks, at that point he couldn’t even imagine his life without her. With the help of his fraternity brothers, Prentice planned a romantic evening for the two, culminating with his marriage proposal. Janice didn’t even have a second to think before she heard herself saying yes. Not that she needed a second. She had been so in love with him from the start that she wouldn’t have ever said no as he slid the gold band studded with a modest diamond onto her finger.
He couldn’t have felt more elated. But the elation would soon turn to heartache, and rather than wedding planning, the pair would be fighting for their love. An Announcement for the Ages After calling their respective mothers, Prentice and Janice set about composing an engagement announcement to be released in the local paper. Prentice received many wild wishes from his fraternity brothers as Janice was likewise celebrating with her sorority sisters. The girls were giddy with delight as she showed off her ring, and they admired the announcement in the paper together.
But at the end of the announcement, one line was the most telling. No date has been set for the wedding. Dad. On arrival, there was only one person who didn’t approve of the couple’s Union. Janice’s father.
As a blue collar businessman, he couldn’t relate to Princess intellectual parents. His father was a doctor, after all, and though neither can quite remember the reason, he gave at the time, he threatened to stop paying for Janice’s tuition if she didn’t break up with Prentice. Distraught, Janice called her mother again, and the two tried to come up with a workaround the schemes of women in order to help her daughter out,
Janice’s mother applied for a second mortgage for their house, hoping it would provide the family with enough extra income that Janice could continue her studies without her father’s monetary contributions. It was to no avail. Though Janice was excelling in her studies, she feared if she dropped out to marry Prentice, he wouldn’t respect her as much, and his eye would begin to wander to smarter girls who had degrees.
Unfounded, Prentice insisted that Janice’s fears were unfounded. He didn’t care if she had a degree or not. He would love her just the same. His mother even suggested the pair elope. But between her father’s pressure and her anxieties that she would be inferior if she defied her father, Janice was suddenly struggling to stay afloat in ways Prentice couldn’t fully understand.
By January, Janice had a big decision to make. Stay with the man she loved and leave College or break up broken and alone, Prentice recalls. We tried to figure things out, but I guess we weren’t smart enough. We had to. We didn’t want to, but we had to.
Devastated, Janice returned the ring with tears in her eyes. Prentice’s heart was shattered into pieces, and he worried it would be impossible to repair. The lovers went their separate ways. After graduation, Janice returned home not to become a biologist, but in order to run her family’s diving board manufacturing business in Reno, Nevada. Rising up, Prentice was able to pick himself up by the bootstraps and eventually moved on.
He continued on from Occidental College to Harvard Law School, a journey that would be mirrored somewhat by Barack Obama. Two decades later, Prentice worked his way up the ladder to become one of the top tax attorneys in the San Francisco Bay Area.
And though he later married someone else, he could never erase the memory of his time with Janice from his mind. Success and longing. Janice was successful in her field, even being inducted as an honorary member of the United States of America Diving Association’s Hall of Fame for her contributions to the industry.