“How I met my blonde sweetheart”
February 14. 2014 6:00AM
When I was in the fifth grade in country school, we lived on a farm northeast of De Smet, S.D. Back in those days, Saturday night was a big night in De Smet, as all the farm folks would come to town. They would bring their eggs and cream and trade it out for groceries. We usually got to town around 6:30 p.m. It was hard to find a parking place, as all the city folks would park their cars on Main Street early then come back downtown and sit in their cars to watch all the shoppers and kids walk up and down the sidewalks. We kids, my older brother and younger sister, were part of the kids that walked the sidewalks along with the city kids.
I was interested in this one blonde with skinny legs and short dresses; she was cute and in the fourth grade and always was walking with other girls her age including my sister. This young fourth grader had an eye for me, too! She always wanted to come and stay a few days with my sister at our farm. I always accused her that staying with my sister was an excuse to see me. She denies this!
Our friendship continued through grade school and into high school. We dated all through high school and went to all events such as prom, and the like together.
Along came World War II and upon graduation in 1943 I volunteered for the service but wasn’t called until the spring of ’44. I chose the Navy and served aboard a PT boat during the war in the South Pacific. I spent 21 months overseas and during the first 15 months I received letters from my grade and high school sweetheart all the time. She always signed it, “Yours forever and ever.”
At the end of the war in the Pacific the servicemen were being discharged and arriving home. My blonde must have had an eye for these young servicemen as the “yours forever and ever” letters stopped coming. I was pretty sure I would be getting a “Dear John” letter, but that didn’t come either.
I finally got to come back to the States and had about 30 days to get discharged from Great Lakes Naval Station. On my way to Great Lakes Naval Station I spent all the time in De Smet.
The “forever and ever” girl was attending Huron College. The train that I took from Sioux City, Iowa, arrived in Huron in the morning. A call to the blond with the bobby socks and saddle shoes met me a couple blocks from her dorm. I wasn’t sure at the time if she was the one, but that night she caught the train to De Smet dressed in high heels and a black shiny dress; I decided that night she was the one.
We married Feb. 8, 1947 at St. Thomas Church in De Smet. From this union, two boys and two girls were born. Now we have seven grandkids and 10 great-grand kids. Three of our children are married to the same spouse and one son never married. My blonde wife, Bev, is in the nursing home – Bethany Home in Brandon. I’m in a garden home at Bethany.
The childhood sweethearts – Beverly and Dale Coughlin – celebrated 67 years of marriage on Feb. 8, 2014. It must have been love way back in the fifth grade and God guiding us all the way.