A little preface to this story, if I may.
Last year, I found love at a Whitehall Railroader basketball game.
This year, realizing that this week was the Valentine’s issue, I headed off down the road to the American Legion Hall to find love birds and their stories during the Washington County Cares lunch hour.
So here are the stories of four couples, how they came to meet and build their relationships, and some of the Valentine’s memories.
Earl and Catherine Belden
Earl and Catherine have been married for 20 years and met when Catherine stepped into a diner to lighten her grocery load.
“I was carrying too many groceries back from the store,” said Catherine. “I didn’t have my car at the time, so I stopped at a diner to rest and this gentleman offered me a ride home from the diner.”
While Earl was chivalrous in offering the ride, there was one stipulation.
“I had my dog with me as well,” said Catherine. “His car was brand new, so he said no dog in the car, so it trotted next to the car all the way home.”
“It went well,” said Earl about their courtship after that moment, which was set up by one of the waitresses at the diner where they met.
As for the Valentine’s Days that they have spent together, Catherine said that her main memory is the fact that he always had a present for her.
“He always used to bring nice gifts to me for Valentine’s,” she said.
Colin and Mary Ann Thompson
Colin and Mary Ann will be celebrating their 45th anniversary in August of this year, but they have always been friends.
“We have known each other since the fourth grade,” said Mary Ann. “So it has been a couple of years.”
“We had always just sort-of been good friends,” said Colin. “And we still are…”
“Most of the time,” interrupted Mary Ann jokingly.
While the two were always friends, they went their separate ways in the dating world in high school and afterwards, until Colin returned from military service overseas.
“My girlfriends had all left me when I got back from overseas,” said Colin, teasingly.
“It was the New Year’s eve when he got back that we got together,” said Mary Ann.
“I thought that there was nothing better than to be with someone who was my good friend,” added Colin.
When asked about a Valentine’s memory, Colin was quick to say, “A can of mixed nuts.” While neither would elaborate much on the story, there was something about being late for a car pool on Valentine’s Day followed by Mary Ann stating that, “he was in trouble.”
Ernie and Joan Blanchette
Ernie and Joan, who have been together for 23-plus years, met each other while attending the same church.
“We started walking around town together on a regular basis,” said Ernie.
“He asked if he could walk with me,” said Joan. “He would say that I tried to pick him up, but I didn’t.”
Joan said that her biggest Valentine’s memories are the cards that she has received from Ernie.
“Once in a while, he would give me a nice card for Valentine’s,” said Joan. “The cards mean more than just about anything else.”
Dominic and Dorothy Valastro
Dominic and Dorothy have been together for the past 23 years and met at a Faron Young Concert.
“It was at what used to be called Country Pleasure, where Flubberbusters is now,” said Dominic. “We danced together at the event and were dancing together all night.”
“He kept blowing in my ear,” said Dorothy, although Dominic said that he was trying to talk to her over the music.
Dorothy also said that her best Valentine’s memory was of the cards that she had received.
“I have loved all of the nice cards that he gives me,” she said.