Erin and Brian Lawburgh of Hendricks spent time on the dance floor with others showing off their dance moves.The dance floor was packed! The night wouldn't be complete without delicious chocolate!

For the love of chocolate

Annual Chocolate Affair event benefits library

The annual Chocolate Affair at the American Legion in Minneota is a celebration of sorts for Valentine’s Day. Saturday’s event also happened to fall on the exact day that Bob and Mary Meffert of Marshall went on their first date 62 years ago.

Bob, who was the band director for 34 years at Marshall High School, plays trombone in the Route 68 band that annually performs at the Chocolate Affair. Near the end of the evening, director John Voit introduced the couple, who have been married for 59 years.

He told the audience that on Saturday, Feb. 8, 1958, Bob and Mary went on their first date as members of the Augsburg College choir that was on a 23-day performing tour of New York and Washington, D.C. Bob then led Mary onto to the dance floor wearing his Route 68 band shirt, having been a band member for 15 years. The audience members gave them an ovation.

“When we were in New York City performing, we were told not to go out alone on the streets,” Bob recalled with a laugh. “That was back in 1958. So all the girls were making plans to do something together that night, and the boys were making their own plans to do something.”

Eugene Peterson, Bob’s roommate at Augsburg College, thought it would be a better idea for the boys to go out with the girls. “Gene suggested we look for a girl to go on an ‘accommodation’ date with,” Bob said. “Mary and I happened to be walking to the Capitol building together in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Feb. 2, and I told her about Gene’s idea. So we decided to go out on a date on Saturday (Feb. 8).”

Bob and Mary knew each other well from being in choir together. “Bob was a tenor and he stood right behind me in the choir,” Mary noted.

“We basically saw each other every day, so it wasn’t like we were strangers or anything.” Bob and Mary were told by locals that the Nixon Greenwich Village, a local jazz club in New York City, would be a good place for their date. The dinner date went so well that they began dating on a regular basis and were married on Sept. 24, 1960 at East Union Church in Carver, MN, where Mary had grown up.

Bob is a native of Gaylord.The Mefferts have two sons (in Eagan and Edina) and four grandchildren. This was the first time that the Chocolate Affair had fallen on Saturday, Feb. 8, the exact day and date they went on their first date. “We get along well because we have so many common interests,” said Mary. “We both like music, we like to do things together, and we have a common background in our church. That’s very important to us.”

Another good turnout

The Chocolate Affair, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, will be utilizing the proceeds from this year’s event to install a much-needed elevator in the library to make it easier for visitors to reach the second floor that houses a lot of historical information. Despite the threat of a snowstorm keeping a few people from out of town away, the Chocolate Affair boasted another well-attended event.

The food, catered by Duke’s Corner Café in Taunton, featured a roast beef meal with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, Caesar salad, and dinner roll. The large table full of chocolates and other desserts enticed those of all ages.

A chocolate fountain flowed for those wishing to dip strawberries, pretzels, chips, bananas and marshmallows. Legion members sold alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at the bar.

The silent auction, which featured a myriad of donated items, saw many of those in attendance trying to outbid one another. The Route 68 band performed marvelously through the evening, drawing many couples to the dance floor. And happily, the snowstorm held off long enough for the event to be another success.

Paula Dovre

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