NEW CASTLE —
A blizzard pre-empted their honeymoon.
A call to arms forced them to put married life on hold for a year-and-a-half, only two months after they’d said their vows.
Some might consider those bad omens for a newlywed couple. But if you believe in that sort of thing, then Paul and Shirley Jones had a much more positive portent working for them.
They were married on Valentine’s Day.
Now, the Joneses have turned a celebrated day of romance into six decades of wedded bliss. They are marking their 60th anniversary today.
Paul laughs when it is suggested that he chose Valentine’s Day to tie the knot just so he could remember his anniversary.
“Yeah,” he grinned, “but not only that, I wanted to get married.”
So did the former Shirley Sarbo.
The couple had been engaged for a year, but she’d been told by her mother that she could not get married until she was 18. Shirley hit that magic number in January 1953, then walked down the aisle of Second Presbyterian Church a month later while still a senior at New Castle High.
“We picked Valentine’s Day because we just thought it was a good day to be married,” Shirley said. “And it just so happened it fell on a Saturday.”
ORDEALS AND WHEELS
The couple headed for a Niagara Falls honeymoon the next day but never got there. A blizzard forced them to stop in Erie, and they returned home shortly after.
Then in April, Paul got his draft notice. After basic training in Tennessee, he was shipped out to Korea, and it was 17 months before he and Shirley could pick up the life they’d so eagerly embraced, only to lay aside after 60 days.
When the wheels of married life at last were turning again, it wasn’t just figuratively.
Paul and Shirley’s life together was rooted not only in their love for each other, but for cars as well. He actually proposed while the pair were watching stock cars race around the former Pulaski Speedway.
“We both liked racing,” Shirley recalled. “You could sit up on the hill at Pulaski and watch the races. We just took a ride one night, and that’s just what we ended up doing, sitting there.”
Eventually, she wanted to retrieve something from the glove compartment, only to find that it was locked and that Paul refused to open it despite her repeated requests.
“I got madder and madder and madder, because I wanted to get in the glove compartment,” she said. “Well here, he had my engagement ring in there. So finally, he opened it and that’s how I got my engagement ring.”
Paul had made up his mind that he was going to ask Shirley to marry him — he just didn’t know exactly when he would pop the question.
“I just had it in there,” he said. “I was going to do it; I don’t know whether it would have been that night or not. I didn’t know what to think, but I was going to ask her.”
ROAD & ROMANCE
From that point on, motor vehicles continued to play a role in their lives. While Paul was overseas, Shirley was employed in the parts department of the local Ford dealership before moving on to an insurance agency and later, an attorney’s office.
Meanwhile, Paul drew the assignment of driving around “one of the big guns” while in Korea. The appeal of operating such big rigs came home with him, and he eagerly accepted an invitation by his brother-in-law — a truck driver — to go along with him.
In 1957, Paul bought his own truck, and although he and Shirley struggled financially during the two years it took to pay it off, the job ultimately supported them and their three daughters for a lifetime.
Depending on who you ask, it might also be part of the secret behind their 60-year marriage.
“I’ve often thought of that when I’ve seen it in the paper — what is our secret,” Shirley said. “A lot of people tell us, ‘well, he drove truck for 50 years.’ ”
Paul credits the couple’s faith.
“I tell everybody that the family that prays together, stays together,” he said. “With me being gone so much, she raised the three girls.”
Shirley’s not complaining.
“I’m not a person who likes to go,” she said, “so I was very content to be home. But to answer the question — what’s our secret — I can’t really give you a good answer.
“I just figure it’s love and our faith and sitting and waiting for him to come home.”
(To watch video interviews with two couples celebrating decades of marriage, CLICK HERE.)
Video, Photo Gallery, Story: Married on Valentine’s Day in 1953, Paul and Shirley Jones mark 60 sweet years together
NEW CASTLE —
A blizzard pre-empted their honeymoon.
Movie Memories, Part 4: Penn Theater remembered for opulence, Leo Mickey’s weekend kiddie shows
When today’s New Castle residents recall the city’s former movie theaters, the Penn may be the most fondly remembered. Built in the 1920s, the Penn “was the first one (downtown) to be built as a full-fledged, deluxe theater,” said Jack Oberleitner, a New Castle native and owner of a cinema consulting firm that bears his name.
Own a piece of history: Watch the trailer for ’Canes’ DVD!
Relive all the magic of New Castle High’s WPIAL championship basketball season by purchasing a collectible DVD or special section that was given out at the team’s banquet. Both were produced by the New Castle News!
Movie Memories, Part 3: The Hi-Lander and Cinema theaters were the last two New Castle movie houses to go dark
Although the downtown once was dotted with movie theaters, one of the last to close was well up the North Hill. The 750-seat Hi-Lander opened in 1952, the result of a joint effort by two pairs of area drive-in owners: Al Tate and John Wincek (Highway 51 near Darlington, and John Favorite and Joe Glorioso (Blue Sky near Zelienople).
- Photo Gallery: Images from the Shenango High prom
Movie Memories, Part 2: Monsters, cowboys and ultimately, sex, were staples at State Theater
Second in a series: Daily through Memorial Day, the New Castle News will be looking back at some of the city’s now-defunct movie theaters. These movie houses will be seen primarily through the eyes of New Castle natives with ties to them — including “Mister Movie” himself, Leo Mickey. Today: The State Theater
Photo Gallery: Some powerful and heartbreaking images from tornado aftermath
Oklahoma City-based AP photographer Sue Ogrocki was at the Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was destroyed, and saw rescuers pulling children out of the rubble. This is her account of what she witnessed, including some of her most powerful — and heartbreaking — images.
- Photo Gallery: Heartbreaking images from Oklahoma tornado
Movie Memories, Part 1: Victor one of many long-gone local theaters
First in a series: Today through Memorial Day, the New Castle News will be looking back at some of the city’s now-defunct movie theaters. These movie houses will be seen primarily through the eyes of New Castle natives with ties to them — including “Mister Movie” himself, Leo Mickey. Today: The Victor
WPIAL Track and Field Championships: Mohawk’s Grim reaps 800 title
Hopes and dreams fueled area athletes at the WPIAL Track and Field Championships yesterday. Aspirations of capturing a WPIAL title and punching a ticket to the state meet filled the minds of those who packed Baldwin High School to prove their mettle.
WPIAL Track and Field Championships: Shenango’s sister tandem shines
Lawrence County girls shined in the field events at the WPIAL Championship. Shenango High’s Amanda and Sarah Herb highlighted the participants, as the sister tandem scored top performances in the field.
- More Photos-Video Headlines
- Movie Memories, Part 4: Penn Theater remembered for opulence, Leo Mickey’s weekend kiddie shows