Orv Menard, a retired college professor, has been surrounded by books his entire life. He’s read hundreds and written a few.
Books are so important to Orv, he married one.
Her name was Darlene Book.
He met her at the perfect place — the bookstore at Omaha Central High School.
Orv and Darlene were sophomores when they met in fall 1948.
Darlene was waiting in line with a friend who happened to like Orv. The friend introduced them.
Orv winked at Darlene. He thought Darlene was cuter than her friend.
They started dating. They danced the jitterbug at Peony Park and watched movies at the State and other theaters.
They took streetcars on all their dates. He’d get off the streetcar with her near her house, so he could walk her to the door at the end of the night. A few times he took so long to say goodbye he missed the last streetcar to his house, and he’d have to hitchhike.
During the spring of their sophomore year, while on a streetcar ride, he asked Darlene to go steady.
Orv was in high school ROTC, so he and Darlene would attend military balls. They’d root for Central at basketball games, then attend sock-hops.
They graduated in 1951. Orv enrolled at Omaha University, now the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Darlene became secretary for the president of an Omaha insurance company.
On April 9, 1954, they married at Miller Park Presbyterian Church.
Orv majored in history and government. He participated in ROTC in college, and after graduation he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
He and Darlene lived in Texas during his military training. In 1956, he was assigned to an Air Force position in Paris.
He and Darlene will never forget flying into Paris on a military plane, and the pilot dipping the wings so they could see the Eiffel Tower.
They returned to Omaha in 1958. Darlene returned to the insurance company she worked at earlier.
Orv also took a job at an insurance company. But he realized teaching was his passion.
He attended graduate school, taught in Texas for a year and in 1964 started teaching political science at UNO.
Orv ended up writing books on Omaha politics, and French politics under Charles de Gaulle. He and Darlene returned to France 15 times over the years for Orv’s research and vacations.
In 1998, after a 34-year teaching career, he retired from UNO as professor emeritus. A scholarship for political science majors was established in Darlene and Orv’s names.
Orv still loves books.
But his favorite, the Book he just can’t put down, is Darlene, the one he’s been with for 58 years.