Love: Good at any age

Stewart and Dorothy Bangs
Stewart and Dorothy Bangs remain ever so close after 58 years of marriage. Photo by Ralph Stewart

By Eleni Collins - February 8, 2007

"I think that Valentine's Day is more for adults, because it's a day for them to love each other," says Tisbury sixth grader Bella El-Deiry, adding, "since they already love us."

West Tisbury third grader Lucie Dougherty Soares declares, "I think it's just a review of loving each other."

Regardless of age, most of us have an opinion concerning Cupid. Children learn about Valentine's Day from their families and classmates, and at an early age begin creating construction paper hearts.

For the older crowd, the day can stir up many memories from silly to poignant. For some, it might be the Tweety bird card saying "I Wuv You" that was sent from "a secret admirer" in fourth grade. Others might be reminded of a high school first love, or heartbreak. All of us seem to have memories of either getting candy hearts, or sending cards to ourselves so we wouldn't be embarrassed when they were passed out during class. If you're lucky, the holiday may turn into just another day in a long and happy marriage.

Stewart and Dorothy Bangs
In 1949, the Bangs' walked down the aisle together. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Bangs

Young love

"You have to show something from the heart, that's what a female wants. You can spend money on any woman, but you have to have that connection for it to matter," says Rahmale Hopkins, 22, of Oak Bluffs. He's been dating Lindsey Smith, also 22, of Vineyard Haven, for the past three and a half years. What began as a summer romance in 2002 soon became the longest relationship either has been in. They even survived a "long-distance relationship" in the beginning when Rahmale began college at Johnson and Wales and Lindsey started her senior year of high school on the Island.

About Valentine's Day: "We don't overlook it. I'm into it, even though I would probably be the one to let it slide. But, I know she appreciates it, and I know she puts effort into it. We always end up having a good time," Rahmale says.

It may be hard for them to outdo last year's celebration. In a Providence hotel, Lindsey cooked dinner, and Rahmale had roses and champagne delivered. However, they both stay grounded and know it's not the material things that have made the relationship work.

"Going out and splurging can be romantic, but again, you have to have something from the heart. I like to put something more behind the effort," says Rahmale.

Lindsey Smith and Rahmale Hopkins
Lindsey Smith and Rahmale Hopkins will celebrate their fourth Valentine's Day together this year. Photo courtesy of Rahmale Hopkins

Developing romance

"Over the years I think we've gotten a little more romantic. In the early days, we didn't think something like Valentine's Day was a big deal. Now, we say it's our day, and we look forward to it," says Daisy Pattison of West Tisbury. With three boys ages six, 16, and 20, she and husband Chris Osmers welcome the holiday. The two have been have been married for 21 years this past January.

According to them, over the years, their children have made the day even better. "We have all boys, and they're good to us. They've made us little treasures, cards, and give me bouquets of flowers," Ms. Pattison boasts.

Time-tested affection

"There's a lot of love between us. I think a lot of people grow old and are just two people, but there is a lot of affection with us," Dorothy Bangs says of her and husband Stewart, after almost 58 years of marriage. Sitting in their Vineyard Haven home, the two reminisced on how they met.

Lucie Dougherty Soares and Bella El-Deiry
Though they're young, Lucie Dougherty Soares, left, and Bella El-Deiry have opinions about Valentine's Day. Photo by Eleni Collins

"Well, there was a shortage of good looking young girls that weren't married down here at one time, and word got out when they were coming. Guys like me were down at the dock," jokes Mr. Bangs.

The real story is slightly more romantic. "After some years of flying lessons, I obtained my license to fly with passengers. I was at the airport one Sunday and it was my turn to fly the plane. I looked around and I saw this poor little girl in her car. I went over there and asked, 'How would you like to go for a ride?' She said yes," recalls Mr. Bangs.

"I used to hang around up there just sitting around in the car watching the planes, and this handsome guy came over and asked if I would like to go for a ride," says Ms. Bangs. "I was thrilled."

To celebrate Valentine's Day, the romantic couple used to go to the movies, which they noted cost maybe a quarter. As their love grew, they would take a romantic ride around the Island or park to watch the moon rise from the east. Now, they are both in their eighties and very fond of recalling their experiences.

"You talk about Valentine's Day, and everyday can be a Valentine's Day, Stewart," Ms. Bangs says to her husband. He's already looking at her, and replies, "Yes."