SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — On their first date, Bert Harrison kissed Lucy as they rode through the Tunnel of Love in Seattle’s Playland Amusement Park.
Now, 70 years later, they’re still in love.
Bert and Lucy Harrison got married on September 13, 1946 — a Friday the 13th — and now 2 children, 5 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren later, they’re happy, smiling and sharing the secrets to a long marriage.
“I just think it’s mind boggling,” Lucy said. “It happened one day at a time, and yet all of a sudden it’s here.”
It began with a blind date in May 1946. Bert was in the Merchant Marines and in port in Seattle when a friend of his urged him to come out on the blind date. Bert also had a car and his friend didn’t.
“I wasn’t too sure about her at first,” Bert said. “Both girls got in the backseat and I was the driver, so I had to tell them one of them belonged up here.”
“And I happened to be the one that got up there,” Lucy said.
At the end of the date — and after the kiss in the Tunnel of Love — Bert told his friend he was going to marry Lucy.
“Actually, he didn’t ever ask me to marry him,” she said. “He simply put the ring on my finger and he says, ‘If you don’t want it, give it back.’ How romantic can that be?” Lucy said, laughing.
On that first date, they also got stuck on one of the rides called The Hammer. When he kissed her in the Tunnel of Love, Bert wasn’t sure if he was going to be slapped.
“I thought he was being a little bit on the fresh side,” she told KOIN 6 News. “In those days it just wasn’t done.”
That was in May, and they were married just 4 months later.
Over the years Bert drove trucks across the country and started an automotive center. Lucy worked for Boeing, was a quality control inspector for one of the moon buggys and also worked on the first Air Force One.
They moved to Salem in 1970 and they’ve been there since.
Through it all, they’ve figured a few things out.
There is give-and-take in a marriage, and they balance each other out. She said his gentleness is a good counterpoint to her being bull-headed.
“That’s how the 70 years has lasted is we work with each other all the time,” he said. “It’s not something you can just stand aside and let it happen. It takes work every day. But it’s loving work.”
“Never go to bed on a fight. I don’t care how long it takes you to work it out, never go to bed on a fight,” she said. “Kiss him in the morning for a good day, kiss him at night for a good night’s sleep. That’s it. What else do you need?”
Bert said they each have their own hobbies. “I help her with hers, she helps me with mine.”
This weekend they’re having a 70th anniversary party with family and friends to celebrate what Bert said has been “just a wonderful life.”
How do they feel about each other now?
“I still love him. He’s my best friend. Most of all, he’s my best friend,” Lucy said.
“Yep,” Bert said. “Same here.”