Alice and Earl Angel were only teenagers when they met, but Alice knew instantly that he was the one for her.
The couple — celebrating their 77th anniversary on Feb. 20 — recalled that first meeting.
“In our little town, we had what you call a square,” Earl said.
People would come to people watch there, or meet up with friends.
“I come around the corner one evening, and I see this car sitting there, and I knew the driver and the girl he was with, so I went over to talk with them,” Earl said.
Alice and her blind date were in the back seat.
Earl said he and the couple he knew “got to talkin’ and talkin’,’ and when he left, they went on their way.
The next day, Alice’s girlfriend asked if she had liked her blind date.
Earl said Alice told her friend: “I didn’t think much of it, but what about that fellow that came up to the car?”
Alice recalls the moment she first saw Earl: “It was love at first sight because I can still see him coming around the corner of the building, his overcoat flopping out, and I thought: ‘He is the cutest thing I ever saw.’”
Alice’s friend offered to try to set up Earl with Alice, and Alice agreed.
When her friend asked Earl, he replied: “I don’t know. I don’t even know her.”
But, he agreed anyway.
“We went out — and that was it,” Earl said, noting about a year later, they married.
Five days later, Earl left for the U.S. Army.
“Back in 1942 and ’43, everybody got married young because of, you know, the war (World War II),” Alice said.
Earl went to Fort Meade, Maryland, and from there to Camp Mackall, North Carolina.
Alice lived with her parents while Earl was in the Army. She visited him twice at Camp Mackall, and she became pregnant.
“I had a daughter while he was in the service, and she was 18 months old when he came home,” Alice said.
The war years were a time of uncertainty.
“It was terrifying,” Alice said. “I had two brothers in, and Earl, and a brother-in-law. Of course, each one of them, we worried about.”
Earl, one of 11 children, said: “I had six brothers in (the war).”
He served from February of 1943 to November of 1945, and as a paratrooper in the Philippines, he took enemy fire — and was wounded in the head.
“I laid in a foxhole for three days and nights before they got me to a hospital,” Earl said.
But, once he was out of the hospital, he went back to the battlefront.
His service earned him a Purple Heart.
After Earl returned from the war, the couple continued building their family — which over the years has grown to include three daughters, six grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.
Adventures in travel
Earl, now 96, held a wide assortment of jobs.
At an early age, he worked at area farms for room and board.
Later, he worked at a spinning mill that made fiber for automobile carpets, at a shoe factory, at a paper mill and a service station.
He spent 28 years as a bricklayer.
Mostly, he worked on high-rises, Alice said.
“I was up 27 stories,” said Earl, who traveled an hour-and-a-half each way for jobs in Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington D.C.
Alice worried about Earl working at such heights, and finally, she put an end to it.
“He came home and he said he was going to have to start a new project on Monday. I said, ‘Is it another high-rise?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Well, then, you’re not going to do it.’
“I just had the feeling.
“He never used a belt or anything. He just walked on girders, or whatever you call them, and I just had the feeling he was going to fall. Several men did, you know, on jobs.
“I told him, ‘You just go down and tell your boss you quit.’
“So, for once, he listened to me,” she said, with a laugh.
Alice was still working at the time, so Earl took over the household chores.
“When I came home from work at night, he had supper ready to put on the table,” she said.
Alice managed a hat shop for 11 years, taking that job after their youngest daughter went to school.
She also worked at a bank for 21 years, first as a teller, then later as a bookkeeper, in the computer room and as a keypuncher, before retiring from the bank, as a bookkeeper.
“When I left the bank, I left at 12 o’clock that day and we took off in our trailer for a 4 ½-month trip around the United States,” Alice said.
“We covered every state, except three: North Dakota, Minnesota and Missouri,” Earl said.
They went to Canada and Mexico, too.
Going on road trips was nothing new for this couple.
Earl said: “When our girls were small, I used to come home from work on Friday evenings, and I’d tell her (Alice), ‘Pack up, we’re leaving at 4 o’clock tomorrow morning.’
“We took the girls and went all through New York, went through the Land of Make Believe, Santy Claus land and everything for the kids.
“We’d figure up how much time we had to get back to go to work Monday morning, and we’d turn around and come back.
They stayed in guesthouses. They’d stop at the grocery store for sandwich meat, bread and milk. They’d eat at truck stops, too, because they had good food, Earl said.
Alice said: “We ended up in Montreal one time.”
Earl added: “Niagara Falls.”
Alice continued: “We couldn’t speak their language and they couldn’t speak ours, but the woman at the hotel, she made us all hot chocolate, and she was so nice, and we conversed that way.
“We had wonderful trips,” Alice said.
Earl went on: “My mother used to say, ‘Earl, you better stop that running around and save some of your money. And I’d say, ‘Mom, let me tell you something. I’m not going to work all week and sit on the front porch in a rocking chair and watch everybody else go up and down the highway.’”
Earl and Alice moved to Florida in 1990, settling into the Colony Hills mobile home park, in Zephyrhills.
It’s a good life, they said.
They noted they’re the oldest couple there, and they’re treated like royalty.
Their neighbors trim their shrubs, pull their weeds, give them rides and have even done plumbing and electrical work — for free.
Plus, when there’s a community event at the clubhouse, they get to go first in the buffet line.
As they approach their 77th year of married life, it seems that Earl and Alice know the joys that come from hard work, simple pleasures and resilient love.
Tips for a lasting marriage
Earl and Alice Angel, celebrating their 77th anniversary on Feb. 20, offer this advice.
Tip No. 1: Don’t go to bed mad.
When Earl and Alice have a spat, they don’t go to bed mad. “We just forget about it,” Earl said.
“Or,” Alice said, “you sit and talk it out, and have a solution for it.”
Tip No. 2: Kiss each other often.
“Kiss each other good night,” Earl said, but in the morning, too.
And, during the day, too, Alice said: “We kiss each other often.”
Tip No. 3: Don’t get jealous.
Earl said Alice doesn’t get mad when the other women at Colony Hills, the mobile home park where they live, come up to give him a kiss.
“The women love him. I don’t care,” Alice said, laughing.
Tip No. 4: Put each other first.
“Always try to treat them (spouse) the way you would want to be treated,” Alice said. “He helps me with everything.”
Tip No. 5: Stay interested in each other.
“I had a boss at the bank, he came up to me one day, and he said, ‘Alice, you and Earl are doing something that is very wrong. I said, ‘Like what?’ He said, ‘You’re always together.’
“He said, ‘If one of you dies, the other one is going to be devastated.”
“I said, “Well, we’re still going to always do things together.”
A roller coaster tested her limits
Alice and Earl Angel used to go to an amusement park on dates.
“She liked to ride the rolley-coaster,” Earl said.
“I loved the rolley-coaster,” Alice said.
“So, I fixed her one day. I had her (ride) 21 times, before I left her off,” Earl said.
“I was angry with him, I’ll tell you,” Alice said. “I thought, ‘Well, if he’s going to act like that, I’m not going with him anymore.’”
But, she said, “He just took care of me until I got back on my feet.”
After nearly 77 years of marriage, they’re still going strong.
Published February 12, 2020