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Recounting encounters that counted

Mary M. Gillette of St. Petersburg met her husband in Cloud Nine, not the one in the sky but a dance club in Chicago.

St. Petersburg's Eunice Hirsch met her husband when he fell into her arms, literally, when he missed the top step of a flight of stairs and tripped. Now that's falling in love.

Rita Ziegler of Palm Harbor's first encounter with her future husband is like the old song _ she met him "on the broadwalk of Atlantic City."

These are three of the responses I got to a request last month for how people met their spouses.

One thing struck me as I read about those first-time encounters, most of which were more than 20 years ago. Would they be possible today, since we are all so wary of strangers?

Take, for example, a poem that Zephyrhills resident C. Harvey Gardiner sent me, that told the marvelous tale of how he and his wife of 57 years, Katie Mae, met in Covington, Ky.

The two walked past each other on the street:

"Four days each week we passed that way,

Perhaps, at first, we only passed

But then, oh yes, we surely glanced,

Wondering whence the other came ..."

Finally Gardiner crosses the street "with pounding heart." He asks the woman he has seen those many afternoons:

" "Excuse me please . . .' I ventured,

And she, thank God, invited more _

"May I introduce myself?'

I did, she did . . . amid warm smiles _

Eight months later happily we wed

And now . . . full fifty years have sped.

I bet you most of us would run if we saw a stranger cutting across the street coming our way. It is a sad fact the world has changed so much.

Most of the people I work with _ men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s _ met their spouses at work. It's hard to imagine such magic moments as the ones described above happening in the workplace.

I also asked for your thoughts on our new advertising feature, The Meeting Place, where people place personal ads seeking friends and companions.

Several were fearful of responding to the ads, which is a legitimate point. It is important to read the notice that runs along with The Meeting Place urging people to take precautions: screen callers thoroughly, meet in public places (someone suggested a fast-food restaurant) and never reveal where you live until you have gotten to know someone.

A few writers told me they had met friends in the ads, and thought they worked. Another said she called one time and never heard back.

One good suggestion was a helpful hint on screening calls. Since most people list interests or hobbies when they place an ad, it is likely callers will say they have those interests _ even if they don't.

"Ask questions, questions and more questions," the letter says. "A few well-placed questions will screen the ones who "say' they are interested in those things."

So thanks to those who wrote. It was fun to read.

How about another question. Our next Seniority publishes in late November, right around Christmas shopping time.

What's the best gift your spouse ever gave you? What's the worst? And what's the oldest one you still have around and use?

I'll publish some next month. Write me care of The Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or call the Seniority line at (813) 892-2319. Computers users can get me at JOHNTIMES(at) or if you subscribe to America On-line, simply message me at JOHNTIMES.