Wonder how to turn adversity into happily ever after?
Brenda Gaultney ran into Bob Jordan in 1970.
At the time, she was 16 and living in Caseyville. Bob was 19, out of high school and working.
"He was three years ahead of me in school, but we ran around with some of the same crowd," said Brenda, 59, of Smithton.
They liked to cruise Collinsville, check out cars and meet at one of the hamburger places. One night, she tried to park her '65 Ford next to his two-tone blue and gray '57 Chevy at Burger Chef.
"I sideswiped his car," said Brenda. "Our cars were then hooked together and we couldn't get them apart until everyone there jumped up and down on them."
They weren't as successful keeping the couple apart.
"This Feb. 12, we will be together 41 years," said Brenda. "We have two children, Chad and Nikke, and two grandsons and a granddaughter on the way."
The magic didn't happen immediately.
First, Bob had to deal with his damaged Chevy.
"The car had fins," said Bob. "The back of the fins opened. Inside was a gas tank. That's what she hit."
He soon got rid of the car, which also had been hit the week before. "There was a piece of chrome sticking out," said Brenda. "That's why I hit it."
"Somebody offered me money for it the way it was," said Bob, standing in his bright green kitchen. "I took it and bought a Dodge Dart the color of this room."
"Probably within that year, he started coming around," said Brenda, a former secretary who now cares for her grandsons. "I had a job at an ice-cream stand on Illinois 159, S & S, I think. I knew he sort of liked me."
"I just liked ice cream," said Bob, a former coal miner, who works for Anheuser-Busch loading and driving trucks.
They had been dating a year when she turned 18.
"Our birthdays are two days apart," she said. "His is Oct. 9. Mine is Oct. 11. Two days and two years years apart."
His present to her? An engagement ring.
A friend tipped her off.
"She said, 'I am going with him to help pick out an engagement ring.' I said, 'I don't like diamonds.' She made sure it was little bitty."
Bob, then 20, worked on the docks and drove a truck for Manhattan Coffee.
What did she like about him?
"His personality and his togetherness," said Brenda. "He had it together."
"I didn't have much of a dad," said Bob. "I had to carry my own pretty much all of my life. If I didn't work for it and get it, I wouldn't have it."
They set a date, June 17, 1972, after Brenda graduated from Collinsville High School.
"He decided he wanted to get married sooner. As quick as I could get everything together was three months. We got married Feb. 2 of my senior year. A friend of mine had gotten married the day before. Three of us had gotten married that year."
Brenda walked down the Sterling Baptist Church aisle in a poofy wedding dress with a long train.
"My photographer didn't get a picture of the train," said Brenda. "But I got to see it. Both of my sister-in-laws and our daughter wore it, too."
After a church basement reception, she and Bob headed for The Hill in St. Louis.
"I remember feeding each other the cake," said Brenda, "then we hurried and the wedding party and us went out to eat."
It's a place they still like to go.
"Our favorite is Mama Campisi's," she said. "I like the lasagna."
"I like the spaghetti and meatballs," said Bob.
"Of course, the bread and the oil, too," said Brenda. "The salad. It's all good."
Kind of like their lives.
"We go to a lot of car shows," said Brenda. "We like showing our old car, a '47 Ford Street Rod.
"It was her dad's, and our son and my brother rebuilt it," said Bob. "I have changed the motor and restored it."
They also have a 2011 Mustang GT50, a Ford truck and a Ford Taurus they refer to as "the beater" that saves the rest of their fleet during the winter.
Both like to cook. She'll make anything in a big pot -- stews, soup, spaghetti. Bob does the grilling.
"We also like being with our grandkids," said Brenda. "We just do anything they like to do. In the summer, it's swimming, water parks, the mall, going out to lunch."
She turned out to be a good driver.
"His was the last and only car I ran into."