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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