Floyd met Linda in 1963. He was 22 years old, and his four-bit 49 Chevrolet had been replaced by a newer Impala. Bill and Floyd had gone to see ''West Side Story'' at the movie theater and from there they went out on a girl-hunting expedition. They were still empty-handed at midnight, when they pulled up to Wood's Drive-In and Restaurant. ''Let's get something to eat and head home,'' said Bill. They gave the curb girl their order, then waited. Floyd pulled out a cigarette.
“Got a match?” he asked. The car’s cigarette lighter wasn’t working. “Sorry man,” said Bill. “The last on you borrowed cleaned me out.”
Floyd glanced at the car next to them. He blew the horn and lowered his window. The person in the next car lowered the window too.
Floyd’s glance turned into a double take. When Webster came up with the word “beauty” he must have had this girl in mind. She had dark hair and brown eyes. If Studebaker had looked as good as she did, it would have outsold Chevrolet.
“Can I borrow a match?” Floyd asked.
“Sure,” she said.
“What’s your name?” asked Floyd as he lit up.
“Linda Tiracchia.” When she said the name, a lyric from “West Side Story” came to mind:
Say it loud and there’s music playing;
Say it soft and it’s almost like praying.
Floyd would have fought the Sharks and the Jets simultaneously for a chance to see more of her, but this time all he had to do was chain smoke for a few minutes. Four cigarettes and four borrowed matches later, he knew he had to know her much better. She not only lit his cigarettes; she lit his fire as well.
Bill hitched a ride home with Linda’s girlfriend, and Linda and Floyd drove to Chandler Park, a city recreational area. Floyd turned on the radio, they listened to music, and they talked. They discovered a mutual love for rhythm and blues. And Floyd discovered a love for Linda that was to last a lifetime.
They started going steady immediately. He was still running his milk route and she was a cashier at Lombardi’s Food Market. Her father ran a small bar. He earned enough to support a family, but not much else.
Seven months after Linda lent him that first match, Floyd proposed to her. They were married after a five-month engagement. He couldn't afford a ring.
The wedding may have been noisier than Floyd's first wedding with Nancy Ellsmore in her garage when he was 7 years old. But it wasn't any fancier.
At first they planned to have it in Bill Robertson's basement. In fact, they painted the basement for the occasion. But then Linda's dad decided he would rent Roma Hall in downtown Detroit. It was the cheapest hall in the roughest neighborhood you could find. Floyd's old gang arrived in leather jackets, bearing an envelope to which each had contributed approximately 50 cents. The entertainment was a juke box.
They spent their wedding night in a motel on Woodward Avenue, then spent two days where all young couples from Detroit go for their honeymoons: Niagara Falls. They returned to Detroit to set up housekeeping in a $65-a-month flat. Maybe it wasn't a great wedding party.
But it's been a great marriage.