Turn on the Tony Bennett and pop open the rose-colored champagne. For this Valentine’s Day, we asked readers to send in their love stories and letters. Apparently, Cupid has been busy over the years shooting his arrows on buses and even in dog parks. So, fall in love with these stories, which could give Nicholas Sparks some inspiration.
+ A long bus ride
When I was 19, I worked in Washington and rode the bus to work. I left at 7:30 a.m. to get to work by 9 a.m., and in order to pass the time, I would do crewel embroidery. Every few days or so, I noticed this really good-looking guy get on the bus (I sat at the front on the seats that face each other), but I had a boyfriend, so all I did was look. For six months, I would catch him looking at me, and he’d look away. Then he’d catch me looking at him, and I would look away. After around six months of looking at each other, he sat down next to me and didn’t talk to me. I was thinking to myself, “OK, Buddy. You’ve been looking at me for six months and you aren’t going to talk to me?” Then he proceeded to open up his briefcase and pulled out a magazine to read. I just happened to glance over and it was a magazine on needlepoint. “Are you kidding me?” I thought to myself.
I laughed and leaned over to him and said, “Hi there, I find it kind of strange that a guy would be reading a magazine on needlepoint.” All the while, I am doing my crewel embroidery. He said, “Oh, a buddy of mine’s girlfriend is thinking of opening a needlepoint store and is looking for investors, so I’m reading up on it.” Of course, I laughed thinking, “Yeah right,” and said with a big knowing smile, “Sure she is.”
I didn’t believe him then and still don’t believe him now, even though he swears it’s true. He asked me out that day for lunch, so I went (because I’m honest, I also told my boyfriend who wasn’t happy) and the rest is history. After I met John, all my girlfriends started riding the bus.
— Joanne Forch
+ The redhead
I have a wonderful first-meeting story how I met my child bride, Laurie. The date was March 19,1980, my late brother’s birthday. I was a production supervisor working the second shift at GM in Tonawanda, N.Y. My partner, Jim, wanted me to stop for a drink after work. I did not want to; I was so tired. Jim kept bugging me to stop, so finally I said yes to shut him up. When I left work, I did not know Jim was driving behind me. When I went to turn to go home, he started to beep his horn and said, “Louie, you promised you’d stop,” so I turned the other way for a drink. I did not drink, so I would just have club soda with a twist of lime.
As we both turned into the parking lot, I noticed two young ladies pulling into the parking lot. I mentioned to Jim: “Let’s ask these two young ladies if they would like to join us for a drink. If they turn us down, we won’t be embarrassed because we are outside.”
As luck would have it, they both said yes. One girl was about 23, blonde and really built. The other girl was in her 30s with red hair and was real pretty. We got a table, and bought them drinks. The blonde was after me, but I really liked the redhead. The blonde asked me if I knew anything about video games, and I replied no. But Jim did, so off they went.
I had never dated a redhead in my life, but I really liked this girl. I asked her name and she replied, “Laurie.” I told her my name was Louie. Then Laurie asked me how old I was. I asked her why, and she said, “I will never date anyone younger than myself.”
I thought, “How weird.”
So, playing it safe, I said, “How old are you?”
“How strange is this? I am 35, also,” I said.
Laurie said, “I don’t believe you.”
I pulled out my driver’s license and showed her. She said, “Ok.” (I was really 32.) Phew, I passed the first test. We danced a few dances.
While talking, I asked Laurie if she was divorced, separated or what. Laurie stated she was separated, and that her husband had moved out with a young girl only 18 years old. That is why she would never date anyone younger than herself. I asked Laurie if she wanted to go to lunch the next day. Laurie said yes. Her girlfriend said, “Laurie, you have not been in the dating scene; these guys get your phone numbers all the time and never call!” The next day I called Laurie, and the rest is history. Laurie was only separated 248 minutes when I met her; we dated four years and have been married 28 years this year.
— Louie A. Yeostros
+ A mouthful of love
Ours was a 58-year-plus love story. Here’s one of the funniest, cleverest and a great example of Mel’s sense of humor and why ours was a happy marriage.
We were at the dentist’s office. Mel had some gold fillings replaced. I asked my friend, the dentist, if the gold could be re-used, and he gave me the two pieces. I took them to the goldsmith in my town and asked him to make me jackets for my diamond studs. He did. I came home, put them on, and pointed to my ears. “Sure,” said Mel, “from my mouth to God’s ears!”
— Bev Shapiro
+ A child’s valentine
Hi, I’m Nico and this is my sister, Bella, and we have the best daddy in the whole world! We love him so much because he takes us to baseball games and he even coaches my baseball team. Daddy loves us so much. He takes us to the park and even goes down the slides with us. My daddy is my best friend. Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you.
— Nico Juliano, age 5
+ Through the years
Kenny Rogers had a great platinum best-seller in his recording of “Through The Years ... ” and that’s our story. Alice and I met when she was 17 and a senior in high school in Brooklyn, N.Y. I was 19 and completing my first year in college. We met at a party at a friend’s house who lived next-door to Alice. It was May 1956. In the fall of 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. Alice was an ardent Dodger fan, I loved the Yankees!
In spite of that, it was love at first sight, in a good old-fashioned way! We dated and really liked to spend time together (we still do!). We got engaged in 1957 and married in 1959. We grew up together in marriage. We were making a very positive and significant difference in each other’s lives. We listened to each other, worked hard and planned for the future. Most importantly, we learned that marriage meant “loving, listening, sharing, balance.”
We were both educators who genuinely loved children. We had two children of our own, who grew to be teachers, too. They have given us five fantastic grandchildren, whom we adore! We spent lots of time together as a family, which further enhanced our sense of “loving, listening, sharing, balance.” Perhaps that is why, as we developed into educational administrators, we knew how important it was to make a significant and positive difference in the lives of others. As retirees living on Longboat Key, we still try to make that significant and positive difference in the lives of others. We continue to get involved in a variety of activities that enable us to assist others and learn, learn, learn!
Kenny Rogers was absolutely right in his song. We are married 52 years and still “loving, listening, sharing and balancing” our lives in the special joy of each other!
— Murray and Alice Blueglass
+ Meeting in the dog park
His wife had died quite suddenly, exactly two years ago in England, and he wanted to find a warm climate where he could start his life over again. His choice was between Italy and Sarasota, but he didn’t speak Italian — yet — so he chose Sarasota.
Her husband had died 17 years ago, in Savannah, Ga., when her small son was only 6, and after he left for college, she wanted to start over again, too. She decided to try Sarasota herself.
He moved into his home on Bird Key a mere month after she moved into hers, but they lived at opposite ends of the peninsula. He walked his regal golden retriever at the Bird Key Park every evening around six o’clock. She walked her frisky Vizsla at sunset, but during the summer months, the time was much later. Yet, by the fall, the sun began to set earlier and earlier until, finally, she began to arrive at the park at six o’clock, too.
+ When Albert met Carolyn
Albert Kelley was married for 31 years when his wife, Julia, died in his arms of cancer. She was his best friend and soul mate. He had a fabulous life but was forced to start a new chapter. He attempted dating, but was unsuccessful.
Carolyn was married for 39 years when her husband, Jack Howard, died of cancer. He was her best friend and soul mate. She had a fabulous life, but was forced to start a new chapter. She had not attempted dating.
Then Albert met Carolyn and they were married in April 2010. Each was given another chance for love and found it a blessing. It was their late husband and wife who taught them how to love, so they did something in remembrance of them. The new couple took the four wedding bands and had them woven together to create Albert and Carolyn’s new bands. They are in a wave design to represent that the journey of life is all ups and downs. Finding each other was surely an up.
— Albert Kelley