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A new book, "Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day" by Arnie Spiel details the not-so-romantic history of Feb. 14, that includes Roman executions in the 3rd Century.
Luckily, that was not the case in Cedar Key on Monday, when 150 people met to celebrate at the Community Center and enjoyed a dinner catered by the Island Room and music by the Dock Street Band.
Among the sold-out crowd at the event, sponsored by the Lion’s Club, were three couples who revealed a thing or two about their relationships and a little bit more.
“Our parents approved”
Winning the unofficial prize for the longest married couple in attendance were Dr. Earl Starnes and his wife, Dorothy Jean, who have been married for 62 years. Their grandmothers lived across from each other in Winter Haven and he remembers first seeing her when she was three years old and he was about seven.
Fast forward a few decades and when asked the secret of a long relationship, Dorothy Jean Starnes said, “You just have to go with the flow sometimes. We have spats and we work through it. Today, most people don’t work through the spats." When asked what attracted her to Earl, her answer was an honest, “Oh, I don’t know —it’s been so long I’ve forgotten — but our families approved!”
Earl Starnes was even more direct, with a quick, “Damned if I know! Just fell in love I guess and decided to make a lifetime commitment."
Working together has its perks
Stanley and Andy Bair have owned the Island Hotel and Restaurant for seven years and moved to Cedar Key from the Bahamas. They have been married for 23 years — second marriages for both. According to Andy Bair, they dated for “a couple years” but Stanley Bair set the record straight — seven years — for a total of 30 years together.
They were living in Atlanta at the time and she was working in his parent’s ski shop. She knew he was the one “just from the way he looked at me the first time — he made me feel beautiful."
Since then, they have lived and worked together 24 hours a day — seven days a week. “If he is gone for even an hour, I still get butterflies in my stomach thinking about him coming back home. ... And even while I’m talking about him right now."
Andy Bair is a man of few words and he didn’t need many to get the point across: “I’m more crazy about her now than the day I met her."
Short courtship - long marriage
Bill Delaino, a Cedar Key native, was at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs when he met a young widow, Peggy, on Sept. 28. He married her the following May 27 in a log cabin church at Palmer Lake, Colorado. That was 38 — soon to be 39 — years ago.
Asked how he knew this was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his Valentine’s Days with, he laughed. “Well, it didn’t take long ...” he said without finishing the sentence.
Three children and five grandchildren later, Peggy Delaino said she is a very lucky woman. Her first husband, an Air Force pilot, died in a military plane crash. They had been married only four years and four months. She explained, “I felt before that I had found the person and I was blessed once in my life. Now, I truly feel I was blessed twice.”
They both agreed that being best friends, having common values and “laughing at each other” is what makes them tick — even if their personalities may be different. Their philosophy is to “live and enjoy every day together” while they can.
That is advice most there on Monday night would have endorsed.