Sitting snuggled next to her on the couch, Earl Blanchard looks over at his wife, Rosemary. "This close," he says to her, "I can see all of your wrinkles."
She hushes him and laughs.
They share 57 years of marriage, nine children and 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their secret?
"A sense of humor," says Rosemary. "That and love keep us together."
Earl is 79, and Rosemary, 78. Their anniversary is today — Valentine's Day — and they will celebrate it with family and friends in their Clearwater hometown.
They met in 1950, at an Indiana University freshman frolic. He proposed a month later. Rosemary laughed and said no, but she stuck around. Two years later, she married him.
Then came college, then Earl's time in the Air Force, then the children, one by one. "Each one has a sense of humor," Rosemary said.
Being married never seemed like work. Earl had careers in sales, consulting and motivational speaking. Golf kept him busy. Rosemary was chauffeur, cook and mother to nine. But they always found time for romance.
"One of the dearest things Earl does is write poems," Rosemary says. "Each one is special."
As they tell their story, each remembers vividly that first dance, the wedding day and the unfolding years.
"It's like it was yesterday," Rosemary says.
"Seems like forever," Earl jokes.
Then they laugh.
Suzette Moyer, Times staff writer