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'How did you meet your spouse?' yields great stories

Columnist Jen Koski says one of the best is from couple whose 2-week romance turned into 71-year marriage.

Jen's World - Jennifer Koski column sig
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Anytime I’m in a group of people I’ve just met, I inevitably ask, “How did you meet your spouse?” It’s one of my favorite party games.

And let me tell you, I’ve heard some great stories.

There’s Sara, who reconnected with her high school crush at their 10-year reunion. They missed most of the reunion, but now have a 20-plus year marriage to show for it.

There’s Missy, who met David in Florida — only to discover they’d grown up two hours apart in Minnesota. She spent the next year trying to fix him up with her single friends until she realized she wanted him to herself. They’ve now had two kids.

There’s Greg who complained to his waitress about his meal … and ended up marrying her a year later.

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But one of the best “how did you meet?” stories I’ve ever been told came from a woman named Gloria.

It was 1945. Gloria was living in Minneapolis, where she’d sometimes take a USO bus to the Wilt Chamberlain naval base to dance with the sailors.

One night a sailor who was shipping out the next day asked for Gloria’s phone number. He wanted to call her to say goodbye.

“We had real strict rules,” said Gloria. “I told him we weren’t allowed to give our phone numbers, but that if he gave me the number at the base, I would call him to say goodbye.”

The next night, Gloria made herself a mug of Campbell’s soup, got into her dad’s flannel pajamas and made the call. The voice on the other end of the phone, she said, “was the prettiest voice I’d ever heard — with a thick southern accent.”

But when Gloria asked the southerner for the sailor she’d met the previous night, he said, “Well, there ain’t nobody here but me. Ain’t I good enough to talk to?”

“Well, I’m sure you’re good enough to talk to,” Gloria answered. “But you’re not who I want to talk to.”

“How do you know if you won’t talk to me?” the mystery man teased.

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Gloria couldn’t argue. They ended up talking and laughing for the next four hours. She learned he had just arrived at the base, and that everyone else — including the sailor she’d called for — had already shipped out.

Before getting off the phone, they arranged a blind date for the next night.

“We met downtown at a place where I could watch who came in,” Gloria told me. “I figured if he looked OK, I’d talk to him. If not, I’d walk out the door and be gone.”

She didn’t walk. Instead, they went out that night. And the next night. And the next four nights in a row. And then they got engaged.

In two weeks’ time, they were married – which is how they stayed for the next 71 years.

“It’s a successful, wonderful marriage,” Gloria told me back in 2006, of the union that had, at that time, brought two sons, two daughters, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren into their lives.

“But how did you know it’d be so good?” I asked. “After just two weeks?”

“We didn’t,” Gloria said, laughing. “There was really nothing to it — he was a very nice, very polite, good-looking young man. I looked at him and thought that’s what I wanted. And he looked at me and thought that’s what he wanted. And I don’t think we’ve ever had a moment of not agreeing that this was the way to go.”

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Jennifer Koski is associate editor at Rochester Magazine. Her column appears Tuesdays. Send comments to jkoski@rochestermagazine.com .

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