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50 First Dates: Well, really just four, but they were memorable
By Jason Lesley
True love lasts forever.
While forever seems like a long time, it passes quickly and leaves memories of a football game in the freezing rain, big burgers at River City Café in Murrells Inlet and the girl who was “second choice” to treasure.
As a Valentine’s Day sampler, four couples at the Lakes at Litchfield shared memories of their first dates.
Bruce and Ginger Cullen: The second choice
Both were students at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
“There were seven girls for every guy,” Bruce said.
He had dated one other girl, but she turned him down for a second date before he met Ginger and asked her out to the local bar and grill, the P&G.
“She was my second choice,” he said with an impish laugh. “Once I met Ginger it was no sense hunting any more.”
Their first date was in February. They were engaged in June and married on Dec. 18, 1955. They honeymooned in a New Hampshire cabin owned by Ginger’s parents. It had neither electricity nor heat, and they felt lucky to get through one night before going elsewhere.
Back at school, they tried living on Bruce’s GI Bill money of $120 a month. With $78 going for rent, things were tight.
“We thought we could live on that,” Bruce said. “When you are young and in love you don’t eat much.”
Ginger went to work for the telephone company and supported them until Bruce graduated and got a job teaching seventh- and eighth-grade science in Goshen, N.Y.
Once their children were in school, Ginger went to work in a school cafeteria and rose to become food service director for three school districts.
Daughters in Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach lured them to Litchfield — they have other children in New York and Pennsylvania that keep them busy.
Guy and Muffie Alling: The blind date
A blind date to tour the Lehigh University library on a Sunday afternoon doesn’t sound like much, but Muffie would take any excuse to get out of her dorm for a few hours of unchaperoned diversion at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa.
The library tour led to more dates with Guy, including one to the big Lehigh-Lafayette football game in 1950. Muffie said plans were to go dancing afterward, so she and the other girls dressed for evening, including high heels. The game was played in miserable rain and sleet, and Guy wondered if she would ever go out with him again.
The foul weather didn’t dampen their romance, and the Allings have been married 60 years.
Their life together, however, was not what either of them expected. They spent 25 years overseas as medical missionaries.
“If you had told me I’d live overseas on the day we got married,” Muffie said, “I would have look at you and thought you were absolutely crazy. But we did.”
The Allings, working through the United Church of Christ, established community medical operations in various countries, including Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, India, Pakistan and New Guinea. She worked in maternal child health while Guy’s work was administrative. They took their three children along with them to every station. Muffie remembers living in places where the family was allowed one bucket of water per day per person. “The last thing we did at night was flush the toilet,” she said.
“It was a time of change in America with the Peace Corps starting and women’s roles changing,” Guy said. “We felt there was so much going on in this country, we could make more of a contribution overseas.”
They retired after 25 years abroad and spent 13 years in New Hampshire before moving to the Lakes at Litchfield. They were familiar with the area because their youngest daughter was married to a Georgetown native.
Bob and Skip Feild: The Big Man on Campus
They met at the University of South Carolina. He was a senior and president of the student body. She was a freshman.
“She wouldn’t have looked at me twice if I hadn’t been BMOC [Big Man on Campus],” Bob said. It is a joke they have shared for a half century.
Bob had visited his future wife’s sorority to play bridge and asked her to a fraternity club dance in March. They dated until school was out but had reached an informal decision to see other people. “I was too flighty,” Skip said.
She agreed to go to Bob’s parents’ house in Georgetown for dinner, and their relationship took an upturn.
“When I went to his parents’ for dinner,” Skip said, “I was so taken by the love they had for each other after almost 50 years. Every time his mother walked by his father would squeeze her hand.”
Skip’s father was an alcoholic, and she had never seen a loving husband-wife relationship. “That’s the kind of family I wanted to be in,” she said.
Bob’s mother told him that she really liked his girlfriend, and they took another look at their relationship. Within a month he gave her his fraternity pin and within a year they were engaged to be married. Her father insisted that she get her secretarial certificate before the wedding so she would have something to fall back on. They were married Sept. 14, 1956.
Bob became manager and vice president for Merrill Lynch in Greensboro, N.C., and later a regional vice president in High Point and Winston-Salem. They bought a beach house at North Litchfield and visited as often as they could. After Bob retired, they built a house at the corner of Parker and Mulberry and moved here permanently.
They love to dance the shag and plan on spending a couple nights at Grand Dunes Resort after Valentine’s Day. They’ve traveled the world and danced the shag in lounges and on cruise ships. If the band can’t play beach music they always request “The Girl from Ipanema” because it has a shag rhythm. Bob and Skip plan to stay at the Lakes of Litchfield tonight in order to dance to the music of Karen and Carl in the dining room.
“We’re the happiest couple that I’ve run into,” Bob said. “We just couldn’t get along any better. It’s incredible. God has blessed us.”
Bob and Margaret Jones: Courting, in a way
They were both widowed when they met on the tennis courts at Litchfield Country Club during a mixed doubles round robin tournament.
They went to dinner at River City Café in Murrells Inlet with a group of friends and started dating.
Margaret had been married to a pediatrician and bought a house on the creek in Pawleys Island. Bob, a radiologist, lived in Litchfield Plantation. “I want to have a doctor if I need one,” Margaret said with a wink.
Their first formal date was to the movies to see “A Fish Called Wanda.” It was funny but a little racy, Margaret said. “I was a little embarrassed, but we had fun.”
They were married Feb. 4, 1989. “Everybody knows that was the year of Hugo and the big snow,” Margaret said.
Their biggest claim to fame: 20 grandchildren.
Every Valentine’s Day, they pull out a big red Valentine’s card they have shared for years and enjoy it again.