Still Dance Partners after 72 Years of Marriage
Louise and Babe Chase of Peabody look to each other for details to their courtship and like most long-time married couples, help “fill in the blanks” for one another and are not shy about correcting the other. What strikes me while in their company is how they hold that conversation with humor at their forgetfulness and differing renditions of the story, and their respect for one another. You only have to spend a few minutes with this couple to see the glue that has kept them together in marriage for the past seventy-two years!
Despite health issues, hardships and worries over the years, Louise, at age ninety-one, and Babe, at age ninety-four, have weathered the storms together. Louise believes there is no secret behind their lasting relationship. “We’ve had so many good years that have held us together; the heartaches go along with that.” Smiling, she qualifies that statement, “You have to keep busy and keep out of each other’s hair.”
Louise and Babe met through their respective church dance classes after high school. “He was a very good dancer. I didn’t like him at all. He was always dancing with all the other girls and not me. I thought he was showing off and that wasn’t what I liked.” At some point, she had her dance with Babe and suddenly she was the one who had his attention. Babe adds, “She always had a lot of boys hanging around her. There were a lot of friends coming and going to her house.” They laugh together kidding that they were each jealous of the other’s popularity with the opposite sex.
“We were dating and Babe told me he was entered in a dance completion with another girl and he planned to still compete with her as his partner.” Clearly Louise was not happy with his decision and let it be known to Babe. Seventy plus years later and Babe is explaining his actions, as much to me, as to his wife. “Well I had already signed up and couldn’t back out at that point.”
They laugh together and with a hand gesture, she waves him off, still not “buying” his reason. It is a tender moment to witness; just one of many that demonstrates how they move together as one in the dance of marriage.
Babe enlisted in the army at age twenty-one. He served our country for four years and was stationed in Virginia. They were married during this time and Louise went to Virginia and stayed for a year. Babe’s duties took him overseas and Louise returned to Peabody to be near family during her first pregnancy. During the war, Babe delivered gasoline supplies to the front lines. It was a job which risked his life on a regular basis. He wrote to Louise as often as possible but her letters to him would not reach him in any timely matter because he was always on the move. Consequently, he did not know when his first child was born until three months after. Babe did not see his child or Louise until ten months later.
Babe proudly shows me his World War II Veteran’s hat. He tells me that he has experienced wonderful moments wearing his cap. “You’d be surprised how many people comment to me when I wear this hat. They thank me. We’ve had several occasions where people have paid our restaurant bill for us, sometimes unanimously. That’s really something.” His eyes tell me just how much it has meant to him.
“We have worked all our lives. After we retired we both went to work at Hannaford’s”, he at age seventy-three and she at age seventy-one. “I worked for thirteen more years and Louise for fourteen more years.”
“We were very active in the Shriners (Babe was Chief Aide). We travelled a lot with the Shriners and had many good times and good friends. We went dancing for many years to the dance halls in Revere, until our legs wouldn’t support us. People would ask us to dance because they loved watching us together. We were always active.”
Babe adds now that their bodies have slowed down, they are not able to be active. “It is difficult to get out and impossible to travel. It becomes boring after being so active.” Babe tells me how they loved going to Foxwoods and would love to go again, but no longer can manage the trip. Louise tells me they often won at the slot machines. These two were not just lucky in love!
Babe and Louise make the best of aging. “The years aren’t that golden when you get to this age.” “Yes,” I agree, “Yet you show determination and resilience.” Family is in large part what they credit to remaining engaged and optimistic. Family live in close proximity and there is much “dropping in” and support from loved ones. Recently their daughter held a large party to celebrate both of their birthdays and their seventy-two years of marriage and clearly it was a wonderful time and has made for more fond memories.
To Louise and Babe, the couple who fell in love with dancing and then fell in love with one another, we salute your seventy-two years of marriage (seventy-three in August Louise reminds me) and applaud your strength. Happy Valentine’s Day!