Bonnie Shaw first saw him in the hallway at Central Valley High School. Six decades later, her eyes still sparkle at the memory. Harvey Shaw, home on leave, had stopped by his old school to visit his brother and sister. His sweet smile drew her eyes and set him apart from the throngs of teenage boys.
Despite his military service Harvey was just a boy himself. “I got stupid and quit school,” he recalled. “I just didn’t think. A few months later, I was in the Navy.”
Though Harvey soon left to join the crew of the escort carrier USS Kwajalein in the Pacific, Bonnie didn’t forget about the handsome sailor.
But that sailor had his hands full. “I worked in navigation – steered the ship and mapped the charts,” he said.
Harvey counts himself fortunate that he didn’t see much action. By the time the escort carrier launched in May 1944, Harvey said, “the Japanese were outmanned.”
He returned to Spokane Valley in 1946. Meanwhile, Bonnie had graduated and had a steady boyfriend. One night she and her date pulled into the service station where Harvey worked. It just so happened that Bonnie’s date knew Harvey and introduced the two.
“I remember feeling real bad that he ignored me because I was with somebody else,” she said.
Spokane Valley had a small-town-within-a-town feel in the late 1940s, and Bonnie and Harvey frequently saw each other out and about with their respective dates. Harvey liked Bonnie from that first introduction – but she had a boyfriend.
“And I didn’t like that at all,” he said.
But when a mutual friend told Harvey that Bonnie and her boyfriend had broken up, he didn’t waste much time. “Four days later, I gave her a call,” he said with a grin.
They spent many hours of their courtship on the dance floor. Bonnie said; “We both loved ballroom dancing.”
Every minute they spent with each other made them long for more. “When we finally got together, we just really fell in love,” she said.
Bonnie introduced him to her family. “My folks always said they didn’t care who I married as long as he was Irish and Catholic.”
Well, Harvey was half-Irish and when he knew he wanted to marry Bonnie he began taking instruction from Father Reilly at St. John Vianney. However, he didn’t breathe a word of this to his sweetheart.
Bonnie grew worried when her friends peppered her with stories of an impending proposal. She loved Harvey, but she wasn’t about to marry outside her faith. So, Bonnie paid a visit to Father Reilly.
The priest informed her that Harvey was taking instruction. “He got the biggest kick out of it when I told him I didn’t know,” she recalled. “I was a little bit miffed!”
In addition, her friends seemed to know more about Harvey’s feelings for her than she did. “They were all saying, ‘Harvey’s in love with you — he wants to marry you!’ I said well, why hasn’t he told me?”
Frustrated, she repeated the conversations she’d had with Father Reilly and her friends to Harvey. The result? He promptly proposed.
Harvey had used the GI Bill to take flight lessons and had earned his private pilot’s license. “I gave her her engagement ring under the clock at Felts Field.”
The couple married Aug. 19, 1950, at St. John Vianney, where they still attend church.
However, Harvey’s plans to obtain a commercial pilot’s license were derailed when he buzzed his buddies’ homes. He shrugged. “The Washington State Patrol told the owner what I was doing with his airplane and that was the end of the commercial license,” he said.
Instead, he pursued a career in another form of transportation. He got a job with United Trucklines. He also worked for Hanford, in Richland.
Before they married they talked about how many children they’d like to have. “We wanted a dozen,” said Bonnie, laughing. “But we settled for six.”
In 1958, Harvey went to work for Colliers Motors, where he worked until he retired 32 years later.
Even with a houseful of children, the couple still danced. “We both loved the waltz,” said Harvey. “There are so many variations. We treasured that time.”
After retirement the pair traveled extensively. Harvey attended 12 reunions of the USS Kwajalein.
“We pretty much covered the United States,” said Bonnie. “Harvey is such a history buff. He always found wonderful places for us to see and made it really exciting.”
Both say their six children, 17 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren are precious to them and credit their shared faith for their lasting union.
But it’s the little things that make their love so special. Bonnie gives Harvey a nightly back rub and the last words they whisper before falling asleep are ‘I love you.’
“He spoils me rotten,” Bonnie said. “When I get up in the morning, my coffee and the paper are waiting for me.”
Her eyes filled as she smiled at her husband. “Harvey is my heart.”