First Posted: 2/10/2014
Steuart Bailey was seated in a pew at the Church of the Epiphany in Glenburn Township in 1957, waiting for a friend’s June wedding ceremony to begin, when Sandra Evans and her parents arrived at the church together.
His first thought as Sandra and her parents were walking down the aisle, was “I’ve got to get a date with that girl.”
Steuart had pursued Sandra in the past with no luck.
“I had known of Sandra for a number of years from high school,” he said. “I chased after her in high school and she would never give me a date. She was going steady with some other guy and I used to date all the girls. I fell in love with them all, or so I thought…until I met her and we finally went out.”
They lost touch after high school for approximately two years while Steuart enlisted in the army and subsequently was stationed in Berlin, Germany during the Korean War.
So, was seeing her again at the wedding, fate? Yes, they agreed, most definitely. The two believe they would have found one another again, eventually.
“The most interesting part of our life together is how we met,” Steuart said.
At the reception in the fellowship hall following the wedding, Steuart, who was determined to nab a date with Sandra, made his way over to her and said, “You know, I’d like to come over to your house and meet your parents.”
That was a line, according to Sandra. “My parents were there (at the wedding).”
“The purpose was to get to her house, and it worked,” Steuart said.
Sandra recalled her mother instructing her to “be nice to that boy,” as he made his way over to her.
She told Steuart, “Ok, well, why don’t you come over…”
While on their first date at a popular Scranton hangout, Mash and Agg Ruddys, after dancing to the song, “Tammy,” from “Tammy and the Bachelor,” a 1957 romantic comedy, Steuart kissed Sandra on the cheek.
“When I danced with him that night, it just seemed like that’s where I was supposed to be. I guess I fell in love with him, then and there,” Sandra said. “When he brought me home that night, truly, my mom and dad were awake…I sat on the edge of their (my parents) bed and I told them then, ‘I just had a date with the man I know I’m going to marry.”
Following that date, a love struck Steuart was already strategizing his next move.
“I called her after a day or so and told her I had a dentist appointment in Scranton and asked if she would like to come with me….Could you imagine after one date she’d want to come with me to a dentist’s appointment? Well, the purpose was to get her with me, so we could go down to pick out a ring…My dentist was right across the street from the jeweler,” he said.
The couple announced their engagement on Thanksgiving eve in 1957, and in less than a year they were married on July 5, 1958. He was 24 and Sandra was 21 on their wedding day.
To this day, 55 years later, Sandra and Steuart take every opportunity to say “we love each other, even now,” Sandra said. “Even before we hang up the phone we do…,” and the tradition of cards and love notes has also continued.
Prior to their marriage, during a month-long separation in September 1957, when Steuart was on the road traveling for his family’s furniture business, and Sandra was in Allentown working on her psychiatric affiliation and training for her nursing degree, Steuart wrote to his sweetheart “every single day,” she said. “Every day I got mail. Telling me what he did.”
The letters included the initials or words, LYF, “Love You Forever.”
Steuart, who is employed by the Lackawanna County Veterans Affairs Office, finds a note with his lunch every day.
“Every day I write him a note, and when he was traveling, which he did before he retired, we would keep cards for one another. I’d find them under my pillow.”
Sandra and Steuart enjoy snuggling, traveling, visiting their nine grandchildren and they also remain active as volunteers in the community. Steuart served on the Abington Heights School Board for 22 years and is the commander of the VFW Post 7069 Clarks Summit. Sandra is active with the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit.
The Clarks Summit residents have five children: Tamara B. Block, Port Jefferson, N.Y.; Steuart Bailey, Jr., New Bedford, Mass.; Alicen B. Silfies, Macungie; Robyn B. Quinn, Phoenixville; and Jacklyn E. Bailey, Clarks Summit.