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Rubber Chickens and Indigo Blue: The RFT Ad That Sparked a Love Story



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Marian Amies' ad in 1992 drew a lot of interest. - RIVERFRONT TIMES
  • Marian Amies' ad in 1992 drew a lot of interest.

Amies had a few reservations, primarily the twelve-year age gap between the two.

"Oh, I thought he was too young as well. He was 40, and I was 52," Amies says.

But she decided to put that to the side.

Kranz had a job at Edward Jones and had also spent time as a seasonal worker at Yellowstone National Park. In his free time, he staged theatrical productions.

That first blind date was in mid-November. By that Christmas, they were enough of a couple to spend the holiday with Kranz's family. And so started a journey of nearly 30 years of follow-up dates together.

"Everything that we did sort of became like a date," Amies says.

One of those dates was a trip to Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 2008, when the couple attended a park staff reunion.

But when they were sightseeing at Norris Geyser Basin, something went terribly wrong. Amies got a stomachache, and a long line for the porta potty made things seem grim.

"I was gonna have a blowout," Amies says, between laughs.

So, Kranz — a soft-spoken guy — took things into his own hands, acting as a police-car escort as the two cut the line.

"Bill was sort of behind me and he said, 'Oh, she's ill, she's ill,' and we were sort of like going in front of everybody," Amies says.

Now, any time the couple finds themselves in an embarrassing, urgent situation, they say "Norris Geyser Basin," bringing them back to the panic that ensued thirteen years ago.

"It was so embarrassing," Amies says. "And that was funny."

Marian Amies and Bill Kranz have been together nearly 30 years. - ERIN MCAFEE
  • Marian Amies and Bill Kranz have been together nearly 30 years.

On a recent afternoon, Amies now 80, and Kranz, 68, sit at an antique table littered with tea wear and San Pellegrino bottles, just feet inside the front door of their Benton Park home, a converted bakery.

"This neighborhood reminded me of some of the houses in Europe, and so I was always drawn to European influences," Amies says of Benton Park, where she has lived since 1988.

Kranz is a native of St. Louis' north side, and graduated from the old Northwest High School. Back in 1992, he had also written a Person-to-Person ad but says he received no responses. Before meeting Amies, he had only ever been involved in one long-term relationship, something he attributed to being preoccupied, because he was often too busy with his various projects to focus on romantic interests.

The two artists have their own spaces for their creations. - ERIN MCAFEE
  • The two artists have their own spaces for their creations.

"I was really busy working projects and fossil collecting like I do, and [working] in my theater for many decades," he says.

For the past ten years, Kranz has lived in the home with Amies, a retired professor of graphic design at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. After meeting through Amies' RFT ad, the two dated for twenty years before they started living together.

The decor of their home is eclectic, accented with things like hanging strands of origami planes and a church pew converted into a bookshelf.

"This house is sort of so big ... that we each have had lots of working space to do our projects and things," says Amies. "So we never had to fight over space."

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