The Epic Love Stories Shared with Us in the #HowTheyMet Contest

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In honor of Valentine’s Day this year, we asked you to share the epic love stories from your family with us, and to let us know #HowTheyMet. You did not disappoint! We received wonderful entries from all over the world, and we’d like to share a few of our favorites with you.

Sandy Scherger of Tasmania, Australia writes that she met her husband when he started a new job at a different department in the company she worked for, and made an error on a document he sent her: “I called to let him know and found him to be a jocular type, so I proceeded to give him a right royal telling off as a joke,” she wrote. “He thought it was funny, so he organized to come to my office a few days later to meet me.” After meeting, they spent a weekend together, and 33 years later they are happily married with a daughter.

Trina London told us that her father crashed mother’s welcome home party from the military! Her mother served as a nurse for 4 years, and when she came home, a friend of her dad’s was invited and asked him to come along. He was deeply impressed with her dedication to their country, and after the party he called to ask her out.

Janie McQueen told us that her grandparents met when her grandfather, Lovic Brooks, took a fall off his horse on the polo field, while her grandmother, Margaret Haley, was watching from the stands. Lovic had a concussion and Margaret rushed past the sidelines and watched in horror as the medics carted off the star player on a stretcher. Margaret went to visit Lovic every day, and he discovered her there when he recovered. At first his family didn’t accept Margaret because they were proud of their background and she didn’t have much to speak of. But Janie tells us that she actually discovered through MyHeritage that Margaret was descended from Scandinavian royalty — she was even a direct descendant of Ragnar Lothbrok, a Viking hero!

Sara D told us how her maternal grandparents found love at the local roller skating rink just at the beginning of World War II: “My grandmother was much lighter on her skates than my grandfather, and she noticed that he had taken notice of her. As he clumsily tried to skate closer to her, she would hang back just long enough, then skate ahead of him and his buddies. She apparently kept this game up for quite awhile, watching this skinny young man trying like heck to ‘catch’ her, awkwardly half-running, half-tumbling for her. Finally, she slowed her pace just long enough for him to catch up to her.”

Debbe Hagner sent us this handwritten note her ancestor wrote to his future wife in 1890!

Roberta Williams told us that they are the direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, who came to America on the Mayflower. Priscilla was still a teenager and was one of the few women to survive the first winter in Plymouth. The story goes that Miles Standish sent John Alden to Priscilla to ask her to marry Standish, but Priscilla said, “Speak for yourself, John.” And she married him instead! John and Priscilla had 10 children.

Barbara Lowe told us that her mother worked at her aunt and uncle’s restaurant one summer, and her dad, who worked at the post office across the street, kept trying to ask her out — but she was very shy. “Carl told me he had to eat a lot of hamburgers before she’d go out with him!”

Jacqueline Ambler told us that when her father Jack was a teenager, his mother had insisted he take dancing lessons, telling him that if he could find a girl who knew how to dance well, she would be a good woman. So when Jack ended up at a dance at Temple Gardens during World War II and asked Anastasia (Nel) to dance, he knew from that very first dance that he would marry her. They kept in touch throughout the war and married in 1947. Jacqueline shares this very bittersweet ending: “Mom ended up with advanced senile dementia, but Dad still looked after her every single day even when she forgot who he was. One thing Mom never forgot was how to dance and Dad would take her to weekly dances at the local care home where once more the years were stripped away and they glided across the floor never missing a step. Sadly Mom passed away four days after their 64th wedding anniversary. Dad was once asked what his most prized possession was and he reached into his wallet and pulled out a telegram from Mom that said when she was arriving into England on the ship from Canada back in 1947. Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year after losing Mom but he told us not to be sad as he was ready to go dancing with her across the heavens as he put it and not long after he left us. I miss them dearly, but on a clear night I look up to the heavens and when I spot a twinkling star I know it is them still dancing and holding each other in their arms.”

The last picture of Jack and Anastasia together and one of their last dances.

Pym Underwood Mumford told us how the 1918 flu epidemic played cupid for her grandparents: “My granddaddy William Henry Underwood, a U.S. Army drill sergeant, was training troops in Galveston, Texas, in 1917 to go over to fight on the Allied side in France. He got a summons from his superior officer to inform him that his mother was seriously ill with influenza and likely to die. She had caught the flu bug which seemed to be hitting everyone hard. William hastened home to Chickasha, Oklahoma, to say farewell to his mother. At her bedside he found his little sister Bessie and her best friend Lois Phillips taking turns nursing Sarah Ann, his mother. He remembered Lois as a little freckled-face girl running around with Bessie. He returned to Oklahoma to find a lovely young woman with auburn hair. Over the course of a few days, the two young people fell in love. Although William was seven years older than Lois, this was no impediment to their union, and they were married not long after, in the summer of 1918. William’s mother died of the flu, but he gained the comfort of a loving and industrious wife, who was a good cook, good housekeeper, and a great needlewoman, as well as a Methodist teetotaler. They remained happily married until William’s death in 1960, having lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, and having produced three healthy children.”

Marie Smith told us this heartbreaking story: her grandparents met in 1942, only 6 weeks before her grandfather was due to start his war duties. Her grandmother’s father insisted that the young man visit every Friday, wanting to be sure of his love for Marie’s grandmother before consenting to give her hand in marriage. Finally, with only 1 week to go, he agreed. “My nan, bless her, had to borrow a wedding dress and shoes from a friend as they had very little money. Their wedding cake was a cardboard replica with a small fruit cake hidden underneath it.” They enjoyed only one night together before her new husband had to leave in the morning. He wrote to her every week, until suddenly his letters stopped, and shortly thereafter she was notified that he was missing in action. “My nan fell to pieces,” writes Marie. “She struggled to survive without him.” But 2 years later, she received a military letter saying that he had been rescued from a prisoner of war camp in Burma! “She was so relieved and excited to be reunited with him, but wasn’t prepared for the change when he returned,” writes Marie. “She opened the door and was shocked to see my grandad’s 6 foot frame reduced to skin and bone, weighing only 7 stone. She was so shocked she fainted.” But he soon recovered and they went on to have a daughter. In 1953, though, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. “My nan, grandad, and my mum moved into his parents’ house, and my nan nursed him round the clock, never leaving his side… Towards the end of his life my nan laid by his side, holding him, hardly finding time to eat and care for herself.” Sadly, in 1955, Marie’s granddad passed away, and her nan had to carry on without him. She missed him desperately and wore black, mourning him, for 13 years. Eventually, she remarried, but never forgot her first love. “Sadly, in 2007 my nan passed away,” writes Marie. “When we sorted through my nan’s belongings, we found a photo of my granddad she had kept in her purse for all those years. Also, at the back of her dressing table she had all her private memories hidden of her time with my granddad. Their love never died and she kept his memory alive as I grew up. I never met him but I felt he had always been there. I think their love story is beautiful as it shows the strength and commitment they had for each other through happy and tragic times.”

With so many great stories, it wasn’t easy to pick a winner! But after much deliberation, we’re awarding our prize of a free year-long Complete subscription to Barbara Lockard for the story of the funny misunderstanding that sparked her parents’ romance:

“It was 1943 and my mother worked at Macy’s in New York City,” Barbara wrote. “She was looking forward to the end of her workday when she was to take a bus to meet her girlfriends at Coney Island. My father was on shore leave from the Merchant Marines, and as he was strolling through the streets of New York City, he spied a petite brunette waiting at the bus stop. He stopped to ask her, ‘Where can I buy a soda in this town?’ My mother, being a native New Yorker, loved the malt shop with its many offerings of malts and sodas. She was especially fond of the thick, rich chocolate malts that only the city shops could offer, so naturally, she directed the young, dashing man in the striking uniform to the nearest malt shop. He immediately started laughing and told her that what he meant was a scotch and soda. This was a foreign idea to her, firstly because she didn’t drink alcohol, and secondly, only a non-New Yorker would have been asking directions to the nearest soda shop instead of a bar. His laughter broke the ice, and as luck would have it, he invited her to the malt shop that she had suggested. All thoughts of Coney Island and her friends flew out of her head, and she accompanied him to the malt shop.” They were married in Brooklyn in 1943 and went on to have 2 children and a 61-year-long marriage.

We want to extend a special thank you to every person who shared their ancestors’ love stories with us. Each of these stories shows how love may be sparked in a single moment, but can endure for a lifetime, nourishing future generations and planting the seeds from which new love stories can grow.

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