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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The rest of the ‘love story’: Spokane-area couples share their paths to romance

She was going to have me arrested!

By Lonnie Scott

It was a cold night in December 1976, and I was working the main gate at Fairchild Air Force Base. My partner, Mike, had gone into the Law Enforcement desk to use the restroom and get coffee. A lone lady in a car pulled up to the gate to show me her ID. She was cute, and I was surprised to see she was active duty, as being an Air Force cop I usually knew who people were from often working the gates. I looked at her ID, and noting the name was long, asked how to pronounce it. She stated it was a Swiss name, and pronounced it. I replied, “I’ll stick with nice easy names like Scott,” while pointing to the name tape on my MA1 jacket. I turned to go into the gate shack and she stated my name was too common. I turned, and we chatted for a few minutes before I sent her on her way.

Mike came back, asked if any cute girls went through, and I told him about Debbie. As I was telling him about her, she came up to the gate again – with another cute girl. Debbie had rushed into her barracks and asked Janis (my now wife), to go through the gate with her so she could talk to the gate guard again. Mike and I stood talking to the ladies, with Debbie asking one of us to go to the other side of the car and talk to Jan. I did so. We chatted until we heard on the radio the shift commander was approaching. We sent the ladies on their way.

Half an hour later the two ladies returned in Jan’s car. They asked us to come to their barracks after our swing shift ended so we could pop popcorn and watch Johnny Carson. Mike and I both had 9 a.m. classes at Eastern Washington State College so we said we couldn’t.

After Mike and I cleared our weapons we met up with our carpooler, Neil, and started to drive to our barracks. Mike told Neil, who was driving, about Jan and Debbie, and their offer of popcorn and Carson. Neil turned the car in the direction of their barracks – old WWII two-story wooden structures. When we arrived, the doors were all locked, but I took out my trusty Swiss Army knife and jimmied the door. We entered and used our flashlights to read the names on the doors. As we arrived on the second floor the hall phone rang. Mike answered by stating the building number. He then looked shocked, pointed the phone toward me, and said, “It’s for you.”

“What?” I asked. “I don’t receive calls in WAF barracks.” I took the phone and said, “A1C Scott.”

“If you aren’t out of this building in 10 seconds I’m going to call the police.” It was Jan.

“We are the police,” I replied.

“You’re off duty,” she stated.

I had been the July 1976 Airman of the Month, and was in the running for Airman of the Year, and didn’t want to get into trouble. “Wait, I’ve got a proposition for you.”

“What proposition?” she asked.

“If you don’t report us, I’ll treat you to lunch wherever you want to go tomorrow, on-base, off-base, anywhere.”

She was silent for a couple moments. “OK, pick me up at Data Automation tomorrow at noon. Don’t be one minute early, or one minute late.”

“Where is Data Automation?” I asked.

“Find it!” And she hung up.

The next day I reported to Data Automation at exactly noon, and the rest is history. Later this year will be our 43rd anniversary.

A wedding by mail

By Barbara J. (Harding) Scarborough

Barbara and Earnie Scarborough on their wedding day, Dec. 11, 1955.
Barbara and Earnie Scarborough on their wedding day, Dec. 11, 1955.

On Aug. 19, 1954, I was asked by a girlfriend to go on a blind date with her friend and another fellow in the Air Force, Earnie Scarborough from Savannah, Georgia, to Joe Albi Stadium to see a football game. We went out for a hamburger before the game and I didn’t really like him at first.

I was singing in a musical “Kiss Me Kate” and had rehearsals most nights, so Earnie asked if he could go with me. This became a habit. He announced two months later he was being shipped out to Goose Bay, Labrador, for a year. We decided to write one another. He was an artist and drew pictures of airplanes, bull fighters, and cartoons on the envelopes. The postman said that the people at the post office really enjoyed his artwork. In the meantime, I had gotten an office job at Early Dawn Dairy in Veradale.

Then in February 1955, Earnie wrote and asked me to marry him. I said yes and so we planned our wedding through the mail. The big day was Dec. 11, 1955, in Spokane and then we went on our honeymoon to Savannah to meet his family.

In January 1956, Earnie enrolled at Eastern Washington State College (now EWU) to become a school teacher and graduated in August 1958. During this time, our oldest daughter Tzena was born. The next month he was hired to teach in Okanogan, Washington. We added two boys, Mark & Karl and a girl, Paula, to our family.

Earnie taught mainly art classes. He also taught photography, history, aviation, advised the drill team and was the drama director for 17 years. I helped with costumes and sets. He retired in 1988 after 30 years.

I was busy raising the children, singing in the choir, sewing their clothes and working at the elementary school part time. Earnie and I had a mutual love for music, drama and the arts.

Having summers off from teaching Earnie would work some summers and then every third year we would pack up the car and go visit the family in Georgia. The first trip in 1962 was with four kids ages 8 months, 2, 3, and 5 years old. We wanted them to know the Eastern Scarboroughs. We camped through 39 states, and the family learned a lot about America.

Each of our children joined the military after high school and traveled many miles away from home. I think our family travels instilled broadening their horizons and serving their country.

We lived in Okanogan for 56 years until Earnie passed away in January 2011. Then next year, I sold the house and moved back to Spokane to be near family. I now reside in a senior apartment community.

Our children are all grown and we have 11 grandchildren, 13 great grand-children and one great-great grandchild.

So going on a “blind date,” that I wasn’t sure about, sometimes leads to a long and adventurous love affair. I love you Earnie!

‘Worth having is worth pursuing’

By Bill Campbell

The first time I laid eyes on her, I thought that I had found a magic genie. She wore a pale blue peasant skirt and crop-top blouse with billowing sleeves. She danced divinely, this strawberry blonde beauty. I managed to catch her attention and we danced throughout the evening. She told me that her name was Sherry and she was 13. I was 15. As the dance drew to a close, I casually asked one of the chaperones if I “could take Sherry home”… with me! My brash request shocked Sherry a little bit, but less so than the chaperone’s enthusiastic approval of the idea. Alas, it was not to be. Sherry went to her West Seattle home with her prearranged ride and I went home to Everett. I knew I had to see her again and so the chase was on!

Her nickname was Sassy, an appropriate moniker derived from the initials of her name. Months passed until a chance encounter brought us together. Sassy, accompanied by several friends, passed by without noticing me. As she walked past, I swatted her rear end. Her response was swift and, I might add, wholly appropriate. She spun around with clenched fist and attempted to roundhouse her unknown assailant. Fortunately, she missed me, and we had a good laugh over her fiery reaction. I knew in that moment that this was the girl for me.

Although we lived in different cities, our paths crossed regularly. Both of us were cadets in the Civil Air Patrol which provided regular opportunities to see one another. One such event was a summer encampment. Near the end of the encampment week, several fellow cadets were vying for the privilege of escorting Sassy to the graduation banquet and dance. Each fellow, in turn, asked her to go with him and each offer, in turn, she declined. Something about witnessing this sad spectacle left me hopeful and I asked if I could escort her to the dinner and dance. How I wish I had a photo of those guys’ faces when Sassy announced that, yes, she’d be happy to go with me. Unfortunately, the heart is fickle. Several weeks later I I lost Sherry to the charms of an old flame of hers.

Months later, we saw each other at another dance. Although my male pride was wounded, I wanted to be with her again. Adolescent détente eventually won the day when my best friend spoke to her best friend which cleared the way for us to speak to one another. But, speak we did, and eventually we spent the evening together, dancing and talking. The evening ended with us agreeing to go on a double-date the following weekend. That next date proved to be magical and we decided then to “go steady.” Every year, for 44 years now, we celebrate that date night.

We exchanged countless love letters, and frequent phone calls, as we continued to fall more deeply in love. I was taking a photography class at that time, and Sherry’s beauty and playful spirit conspired to make her my favorite subject. Yet, it’s the images of her in quiet contemplation that warm my heart the most. Besides being lovers, we came to see each other as our best friend in the entire world.

Sherry used to say she wanted a guy who could make her laugh. In a reversal of roles, I’m the one who gets to laugh. Sherry has a sharp wit and a marvelous, albeit unique, sense of humor. She can easily get me to laughing hysterically. My unrestrained laughter will then set her to laughing until we both have tears running down our faces.

On the third anniversary of our double date, I proposed to Sherry. I wasn’t very romantic about it, I suppose. The idea that we would marry was more or less a forgone conclusion to me. Sherry prepared a wonderful dinner in our little apartment. Afterward, we drove to our favorite romantic viewpoint in West Seattle, where I popped the question as I retrieved the engagement ring hidden in my sock. The following June we married. A few years quickly passed and we had a daughter, and then a son.

I cannot imagine a better partner in life than Sherry. The love and energy she brings to our marriage is tireless. Intimacy, that special mix of physical and emotional closeness, which is the lifeblood of a marriage has no greater champion than Sherry. Early in our marriage, she suggested we attend a Marriage Encounter weekend were we learned how to share deeply and honestly. Decades later, when I was in bit of a romantic slump, we went to couples seminar where the speaker used humor as the vehicle for teaching. We laughed until we cried. The big takeaway was “always go back for the girl!” Anyone worth having is worth pursuing!

We have been married more than 40 years now and we’re still lovers and best friends. We hold hands constantly, while riding in the car, on long walks, or just watching TV. We even choose seats in restaurants that enable us to hold hands throughout the meal. We laugh often, and try always to be supportive and encouraging. Sherry continues to bring out the best in me, and I try to always honor and cherish her.

Sherry still brings the magic to our marriage. When I found my genie, on that dance floor, all those years ago, I had no idea how lucky I was!

Happy Valentine’s Day, my love!

He finally mustered the guts

By Al Barrett

Al and Leslie "Quinn" Barrett have been married for almost 40 years.
Al and Leslie "Quinn" Barrett have been married for almost 40 years.

I met Quinn on the very first day of her freshman year of college at Western Washington University. From the beginning we did everything together, but it took me three months to muster the guts to tell her exactly how I felt. It took another year and a half for me to ask her to marry me. Long story short, I have now been married to my best friend for almost 40 years. She is a amazing person, and an unbelievable mother to our sons, and every day I wonder why she settled for me.

Love Story: Dances to remember

By Alanna Crouch

Alanna Borgen and Jim Crouch are picture at two North Central High School dances in 1971. The couple married in 1976.
Alanna Borgen and Jim Crouch are picture at two North Central High School dances in 1971. The couple married in 1976.

Following the North Central High School Sweethearts of 1971 dance, with the world before them, the class of 1971 ended their high school life at the senior prom, “On the Threshold of a Dream.” The 1971 Senior Class of North Central High School held the senior prom at the Davenport Hotel on May 29, 1971, in the Marie Antoinette Room from 9 p.m. to midnight. Pictures were taken by Dorian and music was by Varieti Pak. The colors were a velvet blue and gold as reflected on the ticket. Pictured are Alanna Borgen and Jim Crouch, married in 1976. We actually met the summer before our senior year working at the Safeway store on Francis, with Jim bagging groceries and Alanna working in the bakery. On his break, Jim would come to the bakery to purchase a doughnut. Our friendship continued in history class at North Central.

In August 2021, the North Central Class of 1971 will celebrate its 50-year reunion, and we will be celebrating our 45th anniversary. The building has changed at North Central High School, but lasting relationships and friendships remain with our classmates. We cherish the friendships made in high school. We still love doughnuts!

High school sweethearts and then some

By David Vahala

David and Johanne Vahala first met as third graders in Federal Way.
David and Johanne Vahala first met as third graders in Federal Way.

This year is a momentous year for us – we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary! We first met in third grade in Federal Way, then were again in the same class in sixth grade. High school sweethearts five years later, we had two beautiful daughters and now have four wonderful grandchildren.

My best friend and travel buddy Johanne is also my car “guy” buddy – we attend local car shows and Porsche Club driving events. In a couple of years, we will be hitting the road to travel the world in retirement, taking advantage of my career with Alaska Airlines. Now in our 30th year living Spokane, we love it here!

Music meant much back in 1951

By Ron and LaDonna Boothe

Well, LaDonna accused me of not noticing her in high school, since I stood beside her in High School Chorus back in 1951. Actually, I really didn’t “notice” her, but for my own reasons. She was a “Jensen” girl. All eight of ’em went through that high school, with a record of serious pulchritude and scholarly achievement. The annual shows me standing next to LaDonna, but … my Lord, a Jensen! A lowly non-jock, non-popular, non-whiskered pipsqueak like me could not in those days dare to notice a girl in the class of beauties such as a Jensen. I noticed her. She just didn’t notice me.

It was two years later, at North Idaho Junior College, she came in as a freshman, and I “noticed” her, as she stately walked down the hall, stood in her Jantzen sweater waiting for a friend. My heart skipped a beat as I said to myself: “A Jensen in a Jantzen!”

I was a sophomore, she an incoming freshman. Chance had us both audition for the part in a play, and we became acquainted in the after-class rehearsals. It was at the party at one of our friend’s houses that I drank enough beer to dare to approach this beauty as we sang songs around a friend’s piano. We harmonized many of the old songs: “In the Evening by the Moonlight,” “Moonlight Bay,” “Home on the Range,” and scores of old folk songs of the time. I got the guts to ask her if she’d need a ride home. She accepted, and I introduced her to my ’29 Model A Ford, which we parked outside her house, and we talked of music into the wee hours. We talked philosophy, theology, and feelings.

I think of it as “love at first sight in retrospect.” The memory of my admiration in chorus and that hallway had my emotions raging. We kept eyes for each other during the play rehearsals. My Model A and I chauffeured her home many times, we harmonized many songs, and what a beautiful alto-voice. It wasn’t too long before the Model A front-seat cuddling accompanied the discussions of what each of thought of all the topics of the times: politics, ethics, morals, theology, state of the nation, hopes and dreams.

Music was instrumental (pun intended) in our connections to each other, and my plans of becoming a Forest Service Wilderness Ranger were dashed to smithereens. And from then on, sharing folk music, western music, harmonizing many love songs.

But it was when I met her mother and sisters, and admired this ideal Lutheran family that I became locked into a closed circuit of “LOVE!” No doubts, for this woman and her family were unique. I immediately proposed marriage.

Plans for making a life together formed. I enrolled in Gonzaga while LaDonna finished junior college, went to work at Kaiser Aluminum, and we impatiently got married the summer of my senior year at Gonzaga. My dad’s brother offered us an apartment in the nursing home he operated in Spokane, so while I hoofed it to Gonzaga from West Pacific Avenue, LaDonna hitched rides to Kaiser to earn our way to a diploma and a job. After six years at Worley, Norris, Linda, Rhonda, then John, forced us to abandon the small house and accept a job in Coeur d’Alene.

After two years of having too much month at the end of our money, we headed for Lake Oswego, Oregon, singing all the way. Never any great arguments, and few disagreements. We shared all decisions, and our love was a matter of fact in our daily, weekly, yearly lives.

Back in Kellogg to become a principal in 1969, and now retired after 66 years of wedded bliss and four children, four grands, and seven great-grands. And … music still matters.

As does LOVE!

Finding love courtside

By Michele Forkner

I was a 39-year-old divorced mother of two young boys; he was a divorced, single for 13 years, father of two boys that he raised on his own since they were toddlers. We met at work when both of us were working for a municipality on the West Side near Seattle.

He was terribly shy, and I was very outgoing, gregarious and looking pretty darn good for my age. He and his youngest son (older boy was away at college) lived in an apartment where Paul Allen’s (yes, that Paul Allen) girlfriend lived, and they were neighbors. The girlfriend had tickets to a Supersonics game that she had given to some of the teenage boys living in the complex. My husband’s son gave his two tickets to his dad to invite me to go, because since he knew his Dad was interested in me. So, my shy husband-to-be came up to me at work with eyes looking down and said that he had these tickets and if I wanted to go with him to the game that would be fine but if I didn’t that was OK, too. Not exactly the best date proposal but who could turn down a Supersonics game?

So we ended up going together and when I realized those tickets were for seats on the floor, and behind us, up three rows to the left was Bill Gates, then I knew my husband was pretty impressive. After that first date, our road to getting to know each other took off and I found a man who was kind, decent, hard-working, loving, didn’t drink, knew how to treat a woman, was a great friend and partner, obeyed the law (found out he was a former Lincoln County Sheriff Deputy), and would do anything for anybody. We ended up blending our families and have been married since early 1994. I was so lucky to fall in love with this man, and he with me. I’ve always said, if I could bottle and sell my husband to other women looking for these same qualities in a man, then I’d be a rich woman. But, I really already am, and I am blessed to have my husband in my life.

Divine intervention

By Denise Parker

Dennis and Denise Parker pictured in their 1972 engagement photo.
Dennis and Denise Parker pictured in their 1972 engagement photo.

I was in the last semester of my senior year, when I took a job at a doughnut shop, within walking distance of home. I worked the night shift, in order to continue school. After graduation, I went to two of my best friends’ weddings. Not uncommon at that time, and I was eager to join them! My boyfriend had broken up with me at graduation, so he could date others in college. I thought he would be the one I would marry, and I was devastated.

I found solace at church, but I was hoping to find a husband, too! It was not easy for me to socialize, and when I tried, it seemed I was invisible to others. I felt as if I was in a bubble! During that time, Dennis was coming into the doughnut shop daily, and I could tell he was there just to see me, but I had no interest in him at all! He was tall, handsome, but just too timid and would stumble over his words when he tried to talk to me. My feelings of isolation at church functions continued, along with Dennis’ frequent visits, for almost a year. I even went out with Dennis one time, because it was a fun Car Club road trip up the California coast to Solvang, from Orange County where we lived. I had a great time, but I still had no feelings for Dennis. My mom told me I would end up marrying the guy I least expected; so I made a list of the guys I didn’t like, and never even put his name on the list!

I was so frustrated, thinking I needed a husband, and still feeling isolated, until early one morning on June 1972, when I woke up with the startling revelation that I did NOT need a husband! I was complete in Christ! I realized that the Lord had isolated me, to teach me that He was the One I should be focused on. I was so relieved! I was happy that I did not NEED a husband!

I hurried to work, the 6 a.m. shift, packed with people wanting their coffee and doughnuts. I was joyously serving coffee, when Dennis walked in. It is hard to describe what happened; but I clearly heard the words, “Here is your husband.” In my ears and in my heart! I knew no one else had heard it, and it was as if the room stood still, and was muffled. Then the sounds in the shop returned, and I was looking into the eyes of the man that stood before me. He was amazed that I was acknowledging his presence, as I forgot about the coffee in my hands, and moved closer to the counter, smiling at him. He looked stunned that I would be smiling at him! I had always been curt and short with him. I had even kicked him out of the doughnut shop a few times! So he worked up the courage to ask me out, and I said, “Yes!” smiling brightly. I knew I was saying yes to my husband!

I did not chose him … God did that! And I am so very grateful! We are more in love with every year that passes, and we look forward to many more together, “as long as we both shall live.”

Dinner is the beginning of it all

By Susan Stratman

George and Susan Stratman met when they both worked at
George and Susan Stratman met when they both worked at

In 1985, we were both volunteering at Marin Headlands – Golden Gate National Recreation Area; George was going back to college and I was doing a three-month internship (free housing, plus $35 a week). We led a tour to the Point Bonita Lighthouse then George asked if I wanted to go out for dinner.

This is where the story always gets silly – George says I replied “well, I was going to wash my hair,” but my side of the story is that I was stalling wondering if I could afford to pay for the meal or was he offering to pay for it. He followed up with, “it’s not often I offer to pay for a meal” to which I readily agreed to go out. We had a great meal, lots of laughter, exchanged music tapes and began a friendship that turned into marriage five years late. Seven years after that our daughter, Emma, came into our lives.

Over the years, we moved five times for George’s job. We like to hike and always enjoyed the opportunity to explore a new area. We recently retired and moved to Spokane. We now spend our days exercising at the YMCA and discovering the many things to do in Spokane!

A kiss is not just a kiss

By Stephen Johnson

Stephen and Jeanie Johnson
Stephen and Jeanie Johnson

In keeping with Valentine’s Day, I wish to recall a love story that blossomed in our senior year at Lewis and Clark High School in 1967.

For some time I had been aware of a very cute and bright young lady named Jeanie, but had not found the courage to ask her out. And when I finally did ask her to the Couple Up dance, she was already spoken for. But fate smiled on me when Jeanie’s original date fell through. Soon I got word that she was now available. Success!

The Couple Up was your usual high school barn dance with a twist. The deal was that if you asked your date to get “married,” a marriage certificate was produced and you got to kiss the “bride.” Well, this was a stretch for me since my prior dating experience had been limited to three dates and I had not explored the kissing concept at all to that point.

But I found this particular girl to be something really special. I had never felt that sort of wonderment before. The evening was flying by as I pondered popping the proposal. Just as the last song was being played I reached deep inside to find the courage to introduce the question before the house (or barn as it were). And to my surprise the motion was seconded and carried unanimously.

But by that time all the certificates were long gone. However, the passion of the moment prevailed and with quick thinking an improvised document was created out of the butcher paper that covered the “altar.”

Then the kiss happened. I suppose it was not a kiss you would see in the movies, but it was good. Real good in fact. So good, that five years later we were married for real. That kiss was followed by many many more kisses for 47 years, resulting in three sons and four grandchildren.

Enduring love at first kiss can happen if you are truly blessed. It did for us.

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