How does a girl from Quanah, Texas wind up with a farm boy from Doran, by way of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, of course! Bette admits that she was a bit more “worldly” than her now husband, Jeff, when she arrived at Hillcrest in the late 40’s from Eau Claire, Wisc.
Jeff admits that his older brother was the one who encouraged him to ask Bette out, especially since she had just recently turned 16 and according to Hillcrest rules, was “eligible” for dating; two dates a month was also the rule.
They both remember their first date, it was in March and they, along with a gang of students, walked to the Baptist church together for the Sunday evening service and then made their way downtown to Runnigen’s Café for malts.
It was the first of many for the two teens. They began their courtship during their sophomore year of school, both going their separate directions during the summer months but Bette recalls that there were lots of postcards exchanged, “postage stamps were just 3 cents and you could buy a postcard for a penny and mail was delivered twice a day.”
They continued their twice monthly dates into their junior year as well, recalling that many of the dates consisted of church services followed by treats at the cafes downtown, some nights they walked to the State Hospital, which was always bustling with activity. They were both happy to be reunited during the summer following their junior year for a week spent at Lake Geneva Bible Camp.
After graduating in 1951, Bette returned to Eau Claire, working at Presto Industries on an assembly line making bullet casings. Jeff continued his education at Augsburg College in the Twin Cities, making many trips to visit Bette on the weekends.
The following fall, less than 18 months after graduation from Hillcrest, they married. They moved to Moorhead to start their new life together, Jeff attending Moorhead State University while Bette had their first three children in less than three years; some lean years while Jeff earned his Doctorate in Psychology and Bette kept the home fires burning and gave birth to two more children.
Bette and Jeff Christenson just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past September, looking back on their life together, they wish they would have saved those old postcards they wrote, “could have maybe written a novel with those,” Jeff joked.