As a young man coming home from serving in the U.S. Navy, Walter Crawford, known as Walt, never could have guessed that going on a blind date would have led him to almost 58 years of marriage.
"My general foreman, he wanted me to meet this nice girl," Walt said with a smile. "This girl here. I hit the jackpot."
Tribune Chronicle / Kayla Hanuschak
Wanda and Walt Crawford are shown at the Howland SCOPE?Center. The Crawfords, who met on a blind date, have been married 57 years.
"We met on a blind date," Wanda Crawford, Walt's wife, said. "We went to Yankee Lake dancing with Walt's general foreman and his wife. We had a good time."
The two tied the knot back in April 1955 and have been madly in love ever since.
"We've had a good life," Wanda said. "We're healthy, so to speak, for as old as we are. Walt is 89, I am 88. We will be married 58 years in April. In September, he will be 90 and I will be 89. Our birthdays are a year and three days apart."
Wanda worked at Packard and then went to Federal Machine. Walt started at Federal Machine and six months into their marriage went to Packard.
"I worked at Federal Machine, and he did, too, at the time," Wanda said. "And then we got married, and he quit Federal six months after we were married. I was ready to kill him. He came home and didn't tell me that he got another job with Packard."
The Crawfords lived a life on the road after they got married, traveling to more places than they could count, but they were particularly fond of one specific place.
"We have been to Hawaii six times," Wanda said. "I'd say that our times in Hawaii were my favorite trips. We went to all of the islands on one of the cruises. It was the best. It's a place that you would never regret going. One time at least. Once you go, the music kind of mesmerizes you and when you come back you want to hear it again. I love the music."
"I liked going to Hawaii because I was in the Navy during the war," Walt said. "We wanted to see a lot of things in that area."
Along with Hawaii, they have traveled to Arizona, NASA, the Painted Desert, Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina, Las Vegas, Bull Head City San Diego, the Caribbean, Canada, drove over the Soo Locks and more.
They also loved to bowl, play golf, and Walt loved to shoot horseshoes.
Today, the Crawfords spend a great deal of time at the Howland SCOPE Center which is managed by John Allison.
"Now there is another wonderful couple," Allison said. "They've been married 57 years. She is taking care of them, and they hug and kiss and they hold hands. They are just a cutesy couple."
"It's just amazing how she takes care of him," Allison said. "She does all of the driving. He can't drive. I'm just so impressed with how much she has taken care of him now. He's not totally feeble or anything like that, but he is getting older and she is right there by his side. Like I said, they participate in all these activities out here to stay active because it is considered exercise. They do it all but maybe two months out of the year.
"It's cute to just watch them. She's a wonderful help to him. If there is something going on, for example she plays bingo on Tuesdays. When she's done with bingo, she has about 20 minutes, she runs up the hill, gets her husband and comes back down to play corn hole at three. They are just cute. They're wonderful."
After reminiscing about her life, Wanda shared her advice on how to make a marriage last 50 years.
"The main thing is to stay healthy and be happy and be compatible with each other," Wanda said. "You have to love one another and really think about each other. That's the main thing I think. I look after him and he looks after me. We play bocce together and play corn hole. We have enjoyed our life. We wish that everyone could be as happy and healthy as we are. Try to be healthy and love one another. The biggest thing is to tell them to be happy and take care of one another and love one another. That's the main thing I think. Be caring."
"We have been fortunate that we both have been well and we eat well," Wanda said. "Neither one of us drinks or smokes. That is a big deal that you don't smoke and you don't drink. When we were younger, maybe we would have a glass of wine when we had our spaghetti or something but we never drank."
They enjoy the activities that are offered for them at the SCOPE Center.
"It keeps us busy and out of trouble," Wanda said with a laugh. "Otherwise, we don't do a whole lot. Not like we used to. About once a month we take a bus and go down to the casino and play for one day and come back. That's about the extent of it."
"We've had a pretty busy life," Walt said. "Time has gone by fast."