Bessie, 84, and Solomon, 86, grew up near Blairsville, Ga. but wouldn’t meet until their teens. By that time his family had moved to Murphy, N.C. but Bessie and Solomon fell in love through almost two years of letter-writing. When he was discharged from the Navy the two were married Aug. 25, 1946. The couple moved to Charlotte in 1950 and are preparing to celebrate their 66th anniversary. Solomon tells their story.
Gone visiting: I was 18 the first time I saw Bessie. I’d gone back to the Blairsville area to visit my friend, Dewey, and he pointed her out while we were at church. I was impressed with Bessie but didn’t try to approach or talk to her. I didn’t know Bessie was a friend of my sister’s until she sent a letter about a month later. My sister was spending time with friends near Chattanooga, so I wrote Bessie to give her that address. I also suggested she drop me a line if she had a moment.
Invitation accepted: I was surprised when I heard back from Bessie and that started a very long period of correspondence for us. I was drafted into the Navy in November 1944 and only found out after we were married that Bessie saved every letter I wrote her. It was through our letters that I developed feelings for Bessie. When you’re on a ship, you’ve got a lot of people around you but not a lot of real friends. It was good to have someone writing to me where I was from. When you’re separated from them, you get all kinds of romantic thoughts.
Shore leave: During my first leave I made sure to go see Bessie. It was really the first time we’d met in person. Dewey drove me over to her farm late one afternoon and we didn’t have time for much of a visit. It was dark by the time we were leaving, so Bessie got a flashlight and shone it on our path from the end of the porch. I was standing on the ground but reached up, pulled Bessie to me and gave her a big smack on the lips. She was so startled she almost fell backward and never directed the flashlight back to the ground. Dewey and I had to stumble our way to the car.
Written words: I knew before I was discharged in 1946 that I wanted to propose. It seemed fitting when I ended up asking her to marry me in a letter. When I received her reply I was afraid to open it for fear she’d turned me down. But she surprised me and we’ve been married almost 66 years. The good Lord has been with us and we had three children, four grandchildren and now have five great grandchildren. Hilary Trenda
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