CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

September 5, 2013

‘The prettiest girl I had ever seen!’

Jimmy and Lynn Hodges celebrated 30 years of marriage on Labor Day

By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times

— After attaining a degree in tool and die at Wallace State Community College, 20- year-old Jimmy Hodges went to work at Speedring.

At that time, the young man drove from his home in Scottsboro to work each day. Like all guys that age, he was hungry most of the time. In a brief moment at a window at a drive-through restaurant called Burger Chef in Cullman, his life changed forever.

“I saw this little girl in a brown polyester uniform and a matching brown hat, with a long brown ponytail, working the window one day,” Hodges recalls. “I thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen!”

“I hated that uniform,” laughed Lynn Hodges.

She remembers him well, too. “I thought he was like a knight in shining armor, driving a little red Datsun pickup truck,” Lynn recalled. “He was the handsomest guy I’d ever seen.”

Jimmy ate a lot of hamburgers over the next six months while he worked up the courage to ask her out. Sometimes he would buy them just as an excuse to stop, hoping to catch a glimpse of her through the little window. “I gave a bunch of those hamburgers away,” he grinned.

When he finally got up his nerve, she told him that she had to work that night. He inquired about the next night – same answer – she had to work on Saturday night, too.

Just as he was about to give up and go on his way, she mentioned that she was off on Sunday.

“I thought he was never going to ask me out,” she said.

That was January 30, 1983, and Hodges has no trouble remembering the date because the following day just happened to be her 18th birthday.

Since she couldn’t go to a restaurant that served alcohol, their first date was at Godfather’s Pizza in Huntsville.

“She wore skin-tight Levis and a maroon velveteen jacket and I remember thinking ‘Oh, my gosh, this girl is really on a date with me!’” he laughed.

“It was velour,” she corrected him with a smile.

They started dating in January of 1983, and it wasn’t long until time for Lynn’s senior prom. Her boss, Madie Waters, took her shopping for a dress. They found one that looked beautiful on the young girl at an East Point formal shop. “I felt like Cinderella,” she said softly.

He took his Cinderella to that prom in her blue dress with the ruffled hem, and soon after that she graduated and moved to Texas with her family.

She had only been gone two days when Hodges just happened to see the movie, “Urban Cowboy” for the first time. “I saw that John Travolta/Debra Winger movie and it just made me think about Lynn so much,” he said. “I was moping around and my dad noticed and gave me some good advice.”

“Son, if you have half a brain you’ll call that girl and send her some money to come home and get her to marry you!” said Wain Hodges.

And that’s exactly what he did.

“I called her up and asked if she would marry me,” said Jimmy. “She said ‘Yes!’ and I wired her $70 to put some gas in her white Monte Carlo. I’ve always joked that she is my mail order bride.”

She’d been moping around out in Texas, too, homesick and missing him. It was the most miserable two weeks of my life,” she admits.

The couple married on September 3, 1983, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

“She’s been costing me money ever since,” he joked.

Hodges worked at United Space Booster in Huntsville for several years, then came to work at Wallace State Community College as dean of the Technical School. He still commutes from Scottsboro every day.

The couple has a 29-year-old son, a 25-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old granddaughter.

Lynn worked at unclaimed baggage, but is now a stay-at-home grandmother who helps with the couple’s grandchildren, and with her favorite father-in-law, Wain Hodges, who lives next door.

“We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, just like everyone else,” said Lynn. ‘But it’s been wonderful, too. We’ve had a good life.”

They will be married 30 years on Labor Day. He still thinks she is the prettiest girl he’s ever seen.