51 years of love and counting: A Valentine's Vignette

February 11, 2012

They were married in 1960. American Bandstand was all the rage for teens and Elvis was featured on the Frank Sinatra show. President Eisenhower had just signed the Civil Rights Act. Young men could be found out racing souped-up cars and young women were kept pretty close to home.

Lindamay and Roger Woosley, now married 51 years, met in 1958 at a homecoming dance at Hood River High School. Roger had already graduated and Linda was a sophomore.

Roger swept Lindamay around the dance floor, his signature dance moves impressing his date. Maybe the chart-topping "Kathy's Clown" by the Everly Brothers was one of the tunes.

Later Roger drove Lindamay home but she quickly leapt from the car before he snagged his goodnight kiss.

"I kind of liked that," said Roger with a good hearty laugh. "She seemed a little hard-to-get and I had to work harder."

"I was just a country girl from up the valley and he was, you know, a city-slicker from Hood River," said Lindamay, with an equally engaging laugh.

"Later I asked her 'Why'd you jump out like that?' and she said 'the girls warned me about you!'" said Roger.

Apparently, the warning wasn't enough to keep her away since the couple ended up marrying on May 7, 1960, just a few days shy of Lindamay's graduation, when Roger had a vacation from his job at the sawmill.

Beyond the dancing skills, Lindamay loved that Roger was "sincere, funny and loving." Roger fell for Lindamay's figure and her "wholesomeness."

But what has kept them together?

Like every long-married couple, Lindamay and Roger have a perspective on what works and what doesn't in marriage.

"There have been good times - wonderful times ... and tough times," said Lindamay. "It's not always been 50/50, you know. Marriage is work and sometimes it can be more like 99/1. But always it has been about supporting each other."

"It is also about family values," said Roger. "We have always been strong on communication. We always eat together and ask about our days. We solve things before we go to sleep every night. Oh, and we share a lot of celebrations."

When talking with the Woosleys at Tricycling Along, their Heights deli, candy and antique store (see sidebar), it is easy to see other the secrets to their success, without having to ask.

There is the laughter. Their smiles and genuine cheerfulness are a shared routine. Each listens attentively to the other when speaking, and each offers a good ear to shop visitors, as well. Both will sit down with you, or offer a hug or a handshake. They each like to tell a story or two, with Roger probably one of the best local oral historians around. They both ask how you are doing.

In essence, the Woosleys know how to build relationships. In their presence, everyone is made to feel important.

"Oh, and laughter helps you live long. It helps in both love and life," said Lindamay.

"I guess we'll live a long time, then," laughs Roger in response.

"Oh, and we have adventures together," added Roger. "Whatever we went into - orchards, delis, flower shops, dealerships - we always did it together, like an adventure."

That sense of shared adventure included parenting. Being parents to six children, the Woosleys learned about respecting and loving the differences in people and treasuring each moment.

"We had four biological children and two adopted children," said Roger. "We lost one daughter, Cindy Marie, to SIDS."

While both Roger and Lindamay still wonder how their lost daughter would have turned out, they are quick to point out how wonderful each of their remaining children are.

"You just learn that everyone is different," said Roger, "but we love them all just the same."

Summarizing a winning philosophy for Valentine's Day, and every day Lindamay said "I guess we just both love people. We may be getting older, but our hearts are still young."

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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