Is there a difference between falling in love and being in love? What's the difference between the verses on a Valentine's Day card and the heartfelt expressions one gives a husband or wife after 50, 60 or even 65 years of marriage? In an age of anxiety and doubt, cynicism and noncommittal, can true love last?
Ask Dale and Dorothy Green.
When Dorothy Dawson grew up on a farm near Hawarden, she dreamt of a career in music. Concerts maybe. Crowds. Appreciative audiences lauding her and begging for an encore. Teaching music, piano, actually, seemed like the best path. So that's what she did.
Today Dale and Dorothy Green are celebrating their 64th Valentine’s Day together.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann
Dale Green knew of Dorothy Dawson back then - a little. Growing up in Cherokee County, he was caught in the tail of the hurricane known as World War II and was drafted into the Army in 1945.
When he came home on a three-week leave prior to specialist's training as a clerk-typist he became a little better acquainted with Dorothy Dawson, that farm girl turned teacher in Cleghorn with the pretty smile. That three-week leave was just long enough for him to ask her if she would marry him.
She said yes.
"Before I left, we were engaged," said Dale. "It was a whirlwind romance."
Since we all know the military always keeps its promises, Dale was assigned to medic's duties in Korea where he helped inoculate Japanese soldiers for smallpox as they filtered south from the 38th parallel.
"We kind of knew that the Korean War was coming," said Dale. "There were skirmishes at that time."
They were married at Dorothy's parents' home north of Hawarden. After a two-year enlistment, Dale studied pharmacy his first year of college at the University of Colorado then transferred to Morningside where he graduated in 1950. His first year of teaching was in Ireton at the princely salary of $2,800 a year - which actually would have bought a new Packard back then - and his second was Hawarden where he made $3,000.
The Greens moved to Estherville in 1963 where Dorothy gave piano lessons for up to 50 students. She did that until 1966 when their own kids were old enough to go to school and she went back to teaching.
Their kids did well.
Margaret, their oldest daughter, received her doctorate from Ball State in Indiana and is in private practice as a psychologist.
Their son, Dale Robert, teaches science at Plainview, Neb.
Their daughter, Mary, taught junior-high science and coached girls track at Perry. She had twins, a son who's now a pediatrician and a daughter who teaches in Southeast Polk.
When Mary found she had cancer, her goal was to see the twins graduated from high school and on their way to college. That wish was granted when she passed away the July 23 after their graduation. To this day, the Mary Waggie Relays at Perry Middle School continue to be held in her honor.
Ruth, the Green's youngest, is a teacher too, first in Grinnell then Estherville for 16 years and now in a school south of Chicago.
So how does a couple manage to stay happily married for 64 years - and counting?
"We never had any real serious conflict," said Dale. "Dorothy has got to get more credit for that."
Love, understanding, patience - they're all necessary for a good marriage, Dale said.
"We dance and we sing," said Dorothy. "We love to sing."
"I agreed I would learn to like classical music and she agreed she would learn to fish," added Dale.
So was it always this easy?
"The early years were the toughest," Dale admitted.
Back then, when they were poor, they didn't have money to do the things they wanted. The only difference is that now when they're older and have the money, they can't do the things they want - sounds like life, doesn't it?
And one would think kids would have gotten in the way of romance, wouldn't you?
Well . . . maybe not.
"You love each other more - family's always been a big deal for us," said Dorothy.
Once they got their family started, it was easier for Dale to go on in school too. After teaching science for 12 years he received his master's degree in counseling and went from part-time to full-time as a counselor, starting the counseling program at Hawarden. He later attended Rutgers University in New Jersey for a summer after receiving his master's.
They've traveled. There was a tour of Europe the summer of 1973 when their daughter Margaret was teaching at a Department of Defense school in Germany and they toured England, Italy and France.
And, by the way. The price of their round-trip tickets then? For Dale and Dorothy and Ruth? It was under $700.
Dorothy retired in 1984 and Dale in 1987. Theirs has been a full retirement by anybody's measure. Travel, politics, social causes - the Greens are known for their involvement - and commitment - to humanity.
It's been a long road, sometimes bumpy, but the point is that they've ridden it together.
For 64 years now.
Let's make that 65.