Mildred Shelton got her first glimpse of Charlie Shelton outside a gas station in the country. She was out riding around with her friends, when she saw him pull in to pump some gas.
"I remember thinking, ‘Man, he is a good-looking guy,’" said Mildred. "He was dressed so smartly."
Little did she know that she’d caught Charlie’s eye, too.
Charlie’s niece went to school with Mildred, and after Charlie saw her for the first time he decided to get her to ask Mildred out for a date.
"My niece told her that her uncle wanted to go out on a date, and do you remember what you said?" asked Charlie, smiling at his wife sitting in the chair next to him in their Newport News home.
"Damn, how old is he?!" Mildred responded with a smile.
Mildred eventually agreed to the date, and three months later the pair married on Aug. 21, 1937.
The couple eventually had six children, and love to share memories of their first date.
"I remember getting into his car and I was sitting as close as I could to the door," Mildred said. "He told me, ‘You’re gonna fall out over there if you don’t slip over closer to me.’"
Charlie recounts the first time Mildred baked a cherry pie for him.
"She got the cherries from a cherry tree and made me this pie, but she forgot to seed them, so the seeds were in the pie," he said, laughing. "It was still really good, but like eating a watermelon."
Charlotte Neill, one of their daughters, recalls how her father always had his arm around their mother, and how both of them were always affectionate.
"They instilled in us a strong sense of family," she said. "Not having a lot of money was a blessing, because you didn’t have the distractions you do today, and could remain close."
One of the family activities Neill and her sister, Phyllis Hunt, recall was singing hymns together when on long car trips.
"We still love to be together to this day," Hunt said, speaking of her brothers and sisters. "And that’s because they let us know how important that was, and how important we were to them."
The Sheltons believe their marriage has stood the test of time, including the loss of a daughter, and Charlie’s diagnosis with tuberculosis, because of their Christian background and faithfulness to one another.
"I would tell people to always look for the best in your mate, and to be ready for disappointments, because they’re going to come," Mildred said.
Her husband hinges their successful marriage on a simpler note.
"I’ve always done what she told me," he said with a grin, before adding, "I’d say pick your mate, because that’s your mate for life. Marriage is a journey, and you need to honor your commitment and not be so self-centered sometimes."
Their parents’ views on marriage over the years have stuck with Neill and Hunt.
"It’s provided a stability for us, because you see so many broken homes nowadays," Neill said. "Their unending love for each other and us has provided that strong base."
When recalling their early days together one thing Mildred says she remembers Charlie’s mother telling him stands out in her mind, and is good advice for young couples today.
"She told Charlie, ‘Treat her nice, and you will be happy,’" Mildred said. "And we’ve had a good life and wonderful children since then, and are still sitting side by side today."
Celebrating 75 years
— The family held an anniversary celebration Aug. 25 in Newport News.
— The Sheltons have 62 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
(c)2012 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)