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Milkshakes, Malts and Marriage

Whitesboro couple discovers recipe for true love

In 1954, high school sophomore Hank Lovejoy was a soda jerk at Finley-Hayes Pharmacy in Whitesboro, north of Dallas. While he created creamy milkshakes, malts and other sweet treats, a girl named Rita caught his eye.

Rita came to the soda fountain almost every day carrying an 18-month-old baby who called her Mommy. “I thought, ‘Golly! I don’t know anything about babies!’ ” Hank recalls, chuckling. “It turns out, she was just the baby sitter.”

And as it turns out, the 15-year-old Rita was to become the love of his life. Fifty-seven years, three children and nine grandchildren later, Hank and Rita—the Lovejoys and lovebirds who have been married 52 years—remain inseparable.

In 1983, Hank and Rita, members of Grayson-Collin Electric Cooperative, opened a business called Lovejoy’s on Main Street, which included a garment factory and a ladies’ wear store. They eventually added gifts, home-décor items and a restaurant, eliminating the garment and fabric-cutting operations.

But something was missing: Hank had long nurtured a dream of owning and operating an old-fashioned soda fountain.

On September 14, 2010, that dream came true when Lovejoy’s celebrated the official opening of a soda fountain. Here, customers step into the past: The milkshake maker, lime squeezer and refrigerator unit date back to the 1950s. And the stained-glass cabinets are replicas modeled after an early-1900s photograph of the soda fountain where Hank worked as a teenager.

“He loves it,” Rita says of her husband. “He has such a good time behind that counter whipping up those milkshakes. And he’s pretty fast at it, too,” she says, pausing before adding, “for his age.”

“Ah, Rita,” Hank responds, “we still have a good time, don’t we?”

Hank said he recently told a visiting couple from Denton, “You know, back when I was a sophomore, I did this for work. Now, I do this for fun.”

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Ashley Clary, field editor