I think it is terrific when I hear of a long-lasting married couple
(fifty years later this year!) who still enjoy their times together.
Lonnie and Sherry met while he was only 21 and she was even
younger, at age 16. They would talk to each other while supervised
by her parents or her brother, as time went by. They even had to sit
one in the front driving (Lonnie) and her brother, Joey, in the
“shotgun” position. Sherry and her friend, Julie, would be in the back.
I am so surprised that their parents even let a 16 year old out with a
man five years older!
Lonnie brings this up abruptly while strolling down my lane in the
distribution center during the first year I was struggling to work there.
It was a sweltering hot day and he was as cool as a cucumber! He tells
me that the weather reminds me of the time he met his wife.
I welcomed the stories since they managed to get my mind off the heat.
I was just adjusting to lack of air conditioning and the heavy work load,
Lonnie is almost 70 years old now. He works the job for the health and
life insurance, part time for 30 hours a week. He has told me they are “set”
in their finances and have a great retirement amount waiting. He adds, he
has decided that will be at age 72!
Now, just so you know, he used to do my job, which is admittedly harder
and requires heavy lifting at a faster rate. I feel he has done his time, so
he deserves a less stressful position. Now, he is called a “put away” man,
which its department is referred to as, “replenishment” or “replen.”
Lonnie told me the first time he met me that Sherry’s parents were hoping
someone would “rescue” her. She was a beautiful young woman with raven
black hair that she now softens with a reddish toned hair dye.
Lonnie has shown me his wife as a great grandmother in pictures. I have
seen photos of the two of them in matching dancing outfits. Also, he has let
me hold his well worn, ragged edged photograph of her as a sweet, innocent
16 year old beauty. Her looks equaled many movie starlets of that period.
“Why did she need rescued?” I queried.
Sherry’s family lived in the rural part of a backwoods Kentucky county. Their
home was hid up in a hill where there were plenty of rusty, old and used cars
piled up around trailers and simple houses.
Lonnie swears Sherry’s family “saw him coming a mile away.”
Lonnie was a “city slicker” with an associate’s degree in business from a local
college. He was selling products at night and working a day job. His goal was
to: “Get out of Kentucky and live in a big city in Ohio.”
Lonnie was out at a local bar near his college when he met Joey. Both were
equally loquacious and gregarious. I am using my big words to indicate they
were super outgoing and friendly with the ladies! In their eagerness to conquer
the room full of young women, they became fast friends. Not too many days
later, Lonnie found his way over to Joey’s house up in the hills. He had come
to ask him to join him for a drive in his new car. (Oh, oh! guys don’t get mad, I
am sure that Lonnie told me the type of car and it was a really cool kind of car.
Not a convertible, but it was supposed to be the impressive kind in those days.)
Lonnie happened to be introduced on this occasion to Joey’s parents and his
one and only sister.
“Big mistake!” Lonnie said, “I was a goner from the moment I spotted Sherry!
She stole my heart on that hot summer night!”
Joey and Lonnie went off to a local watering hole. Lonnie pelted Joey with
questions about Sherry, as they played several games of pool. Joey said that
Sherry had never been out on a date, she was allowed to be “friends only”
with boys. Their mother had been pregnant with Joey at Sherry’s age and
would not want her history to repeat itself.
Lonnie did not wait until Sherry was much older before he started courting
her. He tried to persuade her parents to allow her out with him alone; that
was not going to happen! So, he cooperated by taking Joey and Sherry’s best
friend as chaperones.
One year after the courting stage went on “forever” in Lonnie’s rakish mind,
Sherry’s father was asked to meet with Lonnie. He decided to pick her father
up, take him to a very fine restaurant in those parts, and they sat and talked
“man to man.” Lonnie showed her father his bank account that had $1000
in it. That was ‘like a million to them,’ he recounted. Sherry’s father asked if
his intentions were “honorable” like the fathers in old black and white movies
used to do.
Lonnie told him his dream was to marry Sherry and to take her to Ohio where
they would own a nice home and invite her parents to come and visit often.
He wanted to be given permission to ask for her hand in marriage.
Lonnie’s long range plan would be to someday have enough money to have
her parents move up North and live down the street in a house he would buy.
Then, Lonnie and Sherry would have children together. Their grandchildren
would be close for them to play with and enjoy, he told Sherry father.
He painted pictures in the air like crazy and Sherry’s father granted him
permission to marry his daughter. He was very happy that Sherry would be
given such wonderful opportunities.
Lonnie asked Sherry to marry him and it was not as smooth as he had planned.
He had picked her up and brought her to the nicest restaurant, the one he had
taken her Dad out the week before.
These days, he supposes, people would say, “It didn’t go down like he thought
Sherry looked down at her plate. She looked up at Lonnie’s eager face. She
glanced around the restaurant. Finally, she swallowed and said, “I am not sure.”
Sherry liked Lonnie but he was the first she had really kissed and she felt she
was still young and attractive enough to have more choices. She said, “Thank you.
You are sweet, Lonnie.”
Lonnie spent another six months trying to win Sherry over before she turned 18.
He knew there were more fish in the sea. He also knew she could have her pick
Lonnie had permission to take her to movies, to restaurants and they also would
stop on the way home on a cliff overlooking the little town where she had been
raised. He was five years older and more experienced. He admits he started to
use a little more technique and he tried to “put the moves on her.”
Eventually, whatever button he pushed, Sherry capitulated and said, “Yes.”
They married, they moved to a nice house in Marion, Ohio along the main tree
lined boulevard. It had taken him a few trips to find a good paying job. He also
made arrangements to bring his evening sales job up to Ohio. He felt that they
were on the path to forever and he was so happy.
Like I started this story, every time I see Lonnie he tells me a little more about
his life with Sherry. I have known him for five years in June, 2013. I have yet
to meet Sherry but I do know she never worked in a job outside of her home.
She is a big gardener and cans vegetables still. I have had pickled beets,
banana peppers, and applesauce, among many other items Lonnie has
brought to me in a paper bag. I send little notes of gratitude back to Sherry.
Sherry bakes bread, makes cookies and I have also been the beneficiary of these
delicious treats. I am not sure why Lonnie (who is only 13 years older than I)
has taken me under his wing. I think, somehow along the way, he has heard
me say, “My life is much more simple now.”
Or I may have told him on a winter’s morning, “I miss my garage!” I speculate he
thinks of his wife’s and his own comforts and just feels like sharing them.
I am thankful for the friendship and also, the wonderful story that is now almost
They live deliriously happy and have nights where they win dancing contests,
days where they are on cruises or cruising on their tandem bicycle to the library
to pick up some books and films to watch. The couple have her mother still around
and her father has been buried in the local cemetery. Their only son lives not too
far away with his wife and family.
Sherry’s brother, Joey, and his wife, Julie, also live up in Marion. It is very pleasant
to know another happily ever after story.