First Posted: 4/28/2015
Charlotte Parsons grew up in Salisbury, Maryland, approximately 32 miles from Ocean City.
While seated at a table with a friend at a pier club in Ocean City one weekend in 1949, she spotted two sailors, wearing their white summer U.S. Navy uniforms. One of those sailors was 20-year-old Jack Spory, a Johnstown native and a sailor stationed at the Chincoteague (Virginia) Naval Air Station.
That was 66 years ago. The couple tells the story together now.
Charlotte said the sailors really didn’t have a good reputation for dating, and they weren’t known for longtime relationships. She said the town was flooded with sailors and they came into town quite frequently to pick up girls.
Charlotte said she didn’t have any inhibitions about meeting Jack, because “he and this guy walked over and sat with us and we talked and we danced.
“I was young and naïve,” said Charlotte. “I had not gone with anyone before that and he looked a normal guy and he looked nice to me. I wasn’t afraid of him…”
Jack interjected, “You missed one thing. He (my friend) came over and sat with you because I had gone to the powder room. So when I came out, I had to look for him (my friend) and there he was sitting with two girls,” he added.
Although he and his friend intended to sleep on the beach the night he met his sweetheart, Jack noted, “We decided our white suits would get too dirty from lying on the newsprint, so we hitchhiked back to the base, changed uniforms and then hitchhiked back to Ocean City.”
And so, the following day, when Charlotte and her friend went to the beach, Jack and his friend were there.
Hitchhiking, according to Charlotte, was Jack’s primary means of transportation throughout the 18 months they courted each other.
“He hitchhiked from the (Chincoteague Naval Base to Salisbury) almost every night to see me,” she said.
Jack said he had only been out on two or three dates prior to meeting Charlotte because his family didn’t own a car.
“I didn’t like taking a date on a trolley,” he said.
Their dating rituals included going to nightclubs to dance, an occasional movie and baseball. “She liked baseball. We went to the baseball games a couple of times,” said Jack, who played ball with a Navy team.
By early January, on their way back to Salisbury from a trip to Johnstown, they had already decided they would get married, but Charlotte said Jack didn’t want to tell anybody because “he said the boys at the base would tease him. We just decided we wanted to get married.”
On Jan. 16, 1950, after going to the courthouse to get their marriage license, they stopped at a nearby jewelry store and bought a set of rings.
“I think they were $175 and we paid for them on time. Things were a lot different back then,” Charlotte said. “I didn’t even tell my mother I was getting married until the day we went for our marriage license.”
They were married on Jan. 20, 1950, at the Wicomico Presbyterian Church in Salisbury.
“My father walked me down the aisle and only my family was there,” Charlotte said.
Jack added, “My parents didn’t come. My dad never had a car until he was 63 years old. He said he could have borrowed a car if he had known ahead of time we were getting married. My father was really perturbed.”
Charlotte and Jack began their married life together in Salisbury, living with Charlotte’s mother and father until the following March, when Jack was transferred to Jacksonville, Florida.
“We packed up everything we owned in a 1940 Chevrolet and went to Florida,” Charlotte said.
After Jack was discharged from the Navy in August 1951, the couple returned to Salisbury, where Jack attended college for a year. He completed his education at the University of Delaware and graduated in 1955.
Throughout their married life, they’ve lived in many different cities before settling in the Abingtons in July 1979.
They have four children: Michael, who resides in Virginia; Steven, of Maryland; Richard, of Scranton; and Penny Sepe, Newfoundland; eight grandchildren, six step-grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
In 1994, they retired. Charlotte was employed by Sears for 19 years and Jack worked for CertainTeed.
Jack, 87, has been a member of the Waverly Masonic Lodge No. 301 for 57 years and 50 years with the Altoona Consistory. Charlotte, 85, is active with women’s groups of the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, where she served as vice moderator and moderator and also continues to help make “ugly quilts” for the homeless.
After 65 years together, Charlotte said of their marriage, “We’re used to each other and we love each other.”
“We take care of each other. I don’t know the definition of love, but I know what I like,” said Jack.