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Proposal was night's feature

Jim and Michele Hunter say they still love the Cottage View Drive-In. (Submitted photo)

Being a romantic, it was only natural that Cottage Grove mailman Jim Hunter decided to propose to his wife at the site of their first date -- the Cottage View Drive-In.

"He tends to go overboard though," Michele Hunter said last week, as she recalled Jim's announcement on the drive-in speaker system. "I heard Bryan Adams singing our song '(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,' then a man's voice saying he wanted to create a memory with his girlfriend and asking me to marry him."

She was stunned, she said. Jim had mailed invitations to all their friends and family, arranged the announcement with the drive-in management and even put a traffic cone on top of the car, so everyone in the parking lot would know where to look.

"Our friends and family surrounded us, everyone was crying, everyone was honking," Michele said.

Jim proposed on Aug. 17, 2008. He had already planned the wedding, so they were married two weeks later, on Aug. 30.

Their story actually began 10 years earlier when both were just coming out of difficult divorces. She was working at Sister Kenny Sports and Physical Therapy Center in Cottage Grove and Jim was the mailman on that route.

"After a year of the usual front desk chit chat, my colleagues encouraged me to ask him for a date -- it was the '90s -- they told me, 'you can do that now,'" Michele said. So she asked him to go to the drive-in. "He bought the snacks and I paid admission." Jim still remembers what was showing. She remembers he was a perfect gentleman.

From then on the two, single-parent families visited each other often. Michele has two girls, now 12 and 17 and Jim has two boys, 14 and 21.

Jim and Michele were friends for a long time until they began to grow closer, she said. "We had both rushed into our first marriages, I think we were being very cautious with this relationship," Michele said. "We were both damaged from the divorces, so our friendship was a work in progress. I don't even know when we fell in love."

She said over the years the friendship went through lots of good and bad times, but they began to support and trust each other.

Jim said, "Those times when we were apart just made me realize that life was better with her."

Their first year of marriage was hard, however, Michele said, even though they and the kids had known each other for years and both had been married. "We had to learn a new kind of marriage.

"We're good now, but that hard year just made us realize we needed each other," Michele said.

And, yes, they still love the drive-in.