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A lady named Faith

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The moral of this story is that a hunch is vastly superior to a computer match, an arranged marriage or marrying for money. Sam Toperoff and Faith Potter are proof.

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Sam Toperoff is a former professor of English from New York City who became a free-lance sports writer with a special love of boxing. He was teaching about the Puritans to his American Literature class when he learned about the existence of an English teacher named Faith Potter who taught at a boy's vocational school in Brooklyn.

Sam was fascinated by the name Faith Potter. It sounded like a Puritan name. He imagined a clean, stern-faced, but irresistible beauty, totally different from the bimbos he'd seen in singles bars. The young man had never called anyone for a blind date in his life, but he couldn't resist calling Faith Potter. Besides, he was single and lonely.

Sam couldn't believe it, but Faith Potter turned out to have that fresh, strong beauty he'd conjured up in his imagination. It also turned out she taught her classes with rare dedication. When she read the poetry of Wallace Stevens and Shakespeare for him, his admiration was stirred. But it wasn't love. Yet.

Then admiration bloomed into love when he learned that Faith's father had been a manager of boxers and the young teacher not only enjoyed boxing herself, she had actually known "Kid" Chocolate, one of the greatest featherweights and lightweights ever. Toperoff was thrilled. To himself he said, "I will never meet anyone quite like you as long as I live. I love you very much, Faith Potter, and I want to marry you. Now. Tonight." But that was their first date and he didn't say it out loud.

They had met on a Thursday and eloped one week later on their third date. But two hours before the scheduled vows before a justice of the peace, Sam got cold feet. The idea of marrying a total stranger, even one who loved boxing, suddenly became very frightening to him. He suggested they return to New York and date for a while longer.

Faith Potter did not have cold feet. She challenged him. "You're a gambler aren't you? So take a chance." The marriage took place at the appointed hour. Their teaching schedules prevented a traditional honeymoon, so to celebrate the big step, they took in a World Middleweight Championship fight at Madison Square Garden. And, as far as I can tell from Toperoff's book on noble warriors of the ring, they lived happily ever after. All because of a hunch about a Puritan-sounding name like Faith Potter.

Some names do command attention. Years ago when I was single, lonely and a university student far from home, I was paging through the student directory. Eureka. I discovered there was another university student, this one female, by the name of Lynne Hummel. Who could resist calling a person of the opposite sex who shared your name when her telephone number was on the same page as your own? All kinds of exciting and scary visions and possibilities raced through my mind. But the final vision was of a pretty, young schoolteacher out in Montana who was writing letters to me, and me to her. Out of all this came a hunch -- don't call Lynne Hummel -- resist the curious impulse.

Two years later there was a wedding and the schoolteacher and I have lived happily ever after. I hope that out there somewhere that other Lynne Hummel I never met is living happily ever after too.

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