Allison Klotz remembers the scene perfectly.
It's 1974, and she is in her family's driveway. She is about to depart California for Chicago, where North Park College and nursing school await. Her mother is taking pictures, her father is scrambling around, hurrying to get Allison and her two suitcases to the airport. Then, from out of left field ...
"My mother said, 'You will probably marry a farmer and move to Illinois.' I said, 'No, I won't. I'll be back. California is my home.'
"I don't know why she said that."
As it turns out, her mother's words were prophetic.
Allison did meet a farmer, Bob Klotz. They did get married, in December 1978. They have three adult children and live, yep, on a farm in Maple Park, about 45 miles west of Chicago.
That her mother was right is only part of the story. How Allison and Bob got to this point is just as interesting.
As a transfer student to North Park — she had attended a community college in California — Allison wasn't able to get into one of the dorms, which were full. Transfers instead were given on-campus apartments. She was moving into the building when another young woman asked her if she wanted to be roommates.
"That was my cousin Jean," Bob says.
"She told me right away that she had this cousin," Allison says. "I ended up coming out here (to visit) his family. … Jean would bring out three or four girls in our group."
"She'd just call me and say, 'What are you doing today? I'm coming out,' " remembers Bob, who at the time was working the family's cattle, corn and soybean farm with his father.
Bob and Allison became part of a group that hung around together. They didn't start dating until the last half of her senior year. For their first real date he got tickets to see Second City in Chicago in spring 1977, they recall.
But then came her graduation, and she returned to California "with the intention of never coming back to Chicago."
The previous winter had been fierce, with a stretch of 43 days below 32 degrees. And Bob or no Bob, she wanted out.
"After that winter and being so cold, I swore I'd never come back to Chicago," Allison says.
"Well, you had a choice," Bob points out, laughing.
She went to work at a VA hospital in Palo Alto, but they stayed in touch. In March 1978, he went skiing in Colorado with friends and invited her to join them.
"I really enjoyed myself," she says. "That's when we realized it was more than a casual relationship."
In fact, it was on the trip that they decided to get married. But that presented other challenges. The wedding would be in California, and it had to wait until after the fall harvest. Farmers can't just leave town for a few days.
"My whole family had to fly out to California," Bob says. "(But) we weren't going to budge my dad (until after the harvest)."
Bob also had some concerns about Allison. "I kept asking, 'Are you sure? You're giving up a lot.' The weather here, leaving her family," he says.
She could see his point. "I loved driving through the mountains, to the ocean, camping in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was hard leaving it all."
And, she admits, when she left California to start their new life in Illinois, "I was crying. I knew I was going away, farther away than ever before and for longer than ever. But love is a little more powerful — "
Interjects Bob: "Than adverse weather."
They found that out big-time after their wedding on Dec. 9, 1978.
The winter of 1978-79, when Chicago got nearly 7 1/2 feet of snow, gave them the opportunity to see a lot of each other.
They moved into a farmhouse next to Bob's family's farm; they're in the same house today. Although Allison occasionally became depressed by the daunting, un-California-like conditions, she directed her attention to making the place
Not like she could go off exploring or anything.
"We were stuck on the farm that first winter," she says. "It sounds really romantic. We had tons and tons of snow. The roads were closed. The snow was halfway up the grain silos."
Bob would spend his days with farm duties. He'd ride his snowmobile to his parents' farm, get the tractor, clear snow and feed the cattle, who needed to eat every day.
"He spent many, many hours, every day, moving snow," Allison says.
"Growing up not on a farm, there was a lot of adjustment (for her)," Bob says.
"We got into a routine," Allison explains. "We spent a lot of time here, didn't go away because there were always cattle to feed."
They still had fun. Bob had five sisters ("I understand women," he says), cousins and neighbors who were also newlyweds, and they got together almost every weekend at someone's house. The snow eventually melted, of course. In April, Bob's parents were finally able to throw the newlyweds a wedding reception.
After that first winter, she started working part time, until their kids — now 24, 27 and 30 — were born.
She went back to school, at Northern Illinois University, and got her teaching degree and now is a middle school special education teacher.
Bob's still farming their 800 acres and says he has no plans to retire. ("If you enjoy what you're doing, and you're your own boss, it's hard to retire. I haven't thought about it because I enjoy what I do.") They will become grandparents for the first time in September.
"When I went home after I graduated, I dated other guys," Allison remembers. "But there was something different about him from any other guy I ever met.
"My mother told me — she likes to tell me things — 'I'm sure you would have met someone in California that you could marry.' But I told my parents, 'There was no one else like him.' "Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun