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.”