Today marks the 62nd time Pauline and Dale Dunn are spending a Valentine’s Day together. After more than six decades together, the Laramie residents said the flame that brought them together is still flickering.
“She’s a companion that wouldn’t quit,” said Dale, 85. “It was a spark that more or less when we first met just hung in there. It’s still flickering.”
But in all those years, Pauline said they never really participated in Valentine’s Day traditions such as making reservations at restaurants or buying big bouquets of flowers. The Dunn’s have always celebrated Valentine’s Day through their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she said.
“We never thought about ourselves at that time,” Pauline said. “We just did extra for our kids. We made sure they had a Valentine or the things at school that went with Valentine’s Day, because money wasn’t always easy to come by back then. We worked for it, we worked hard for it and we made sure our kids had what they needed. … We made sure they made their shoeboxes. Your children are a part of you, and you want them to have what other kids have.”
Even without the romantic gestures some couples engage in on Valentine’s Day, Pauline said they’ve never felt deprived. Family, she said, was all they needed.
“Children are very important,” Pauline said. “They were important enough that you think about them and not always yourselves. What they needed and were in was more important than what we had to do. … Your family rewards you.”
Dale and Pauline first met in 1954 when working at Dunn’s Coffee Shop, located between Ivinson and University avenues on Third Street where the First Interstate Bank parking lot is today.
“My uncles owned it,” Dale said. “I was a dishwasher and she was a waitress.”
Dale returned to Laramie from serving in the Air Force in Guam in 1955. At the time, he said they weren’t focused on whether they’d be together in 2017.
“We didn’t look that far forward,” Dale said.
Pauline said she and Dale just took things one day at a time — and still do.
“We never took each other for granted,” she said. “We respected each other, and never had it where everything had to be done our own ways. We learned to share situations and talk about them.”
Having success in their relationship is owed in no small part to realizing marriage and family are shared journeys, Pauline said.
“(It’s about) not thinking that you’re the only person, and that there’s somebody else to think about and consider,” she said.
Tony and Sandra Guzzo are getting ready to celebrate 55 years of marriage in June. Tony said he’s not sure what’s kept them together, but he said it’s been good.
“It’s a mysterious thing — I’m not sure,” he said. “I always thought Sandra was a very attractive gal. She liked the same things I liked, she had the same taste in dancing, same taste in music — that adds up.”
Sandra said she’s not sure what convinced her to marry Tony, but does remember when she decided she knew he was the one.
“I knew it when we went to Mount Lemmon with the folk dancers,” Sandra said. “I just knew I’d marry him. I don’t know why, I just did.”
When going through the ups and downs in their marriage, Pauline said their church and Christian faith established a foundation they could always rely on. Whether it was through prayer or finding help in their church community, she said it’s a cornerstone in maintaining a successful relationship.
“You had a God to rely on, and that’s vitally important,” Pauline said.
Given their experience in sharing a loving relationship through many years, Pauline said young couples having relationship trouble need to make sure they are communicating. Counseling, she said, could be a good idea. Remembering even seemingly impossible challenges in relationships can be overcome is also something young people need to remember, Pauline said.
“Sometimes, it absolutely cannot be worked out, but most of the time, things can,” she said.
Whatever the problem, Dale said it takes both partners being committed to finding a solution.
“You’ve got to work together,” he said.
Gordon Cook said he wasn’t necessarily thinking about being together in 2017 when first met his wife Marcela while she worked at a root beer float stand in St. Peter, Minnesota, more than 60 years ago. In reflecting on how they were able to overcome challenges in their relationship, Marcela said there was just too much going on in their lives to fight. Instead, they just appreciated having each other and their children, she said.
“We were raising four children and we both worked different jobs,” Marcela said. “You didn’t have time to disagree. We were just lucky to see each other at the end of the day.”
With their children grown and seemingly countless great-grandchildren, Pauline said she and Dale still take things one day at a time. Reflecting on their past and looking forward, she said their lives could not have worked out better.
“Life has been very good to us,” Pauline said. “I couldn’t have had a better husband.”