“Love at First Sight. For Real?”
My friend, Dace Pedecis, recently asked this question on https://come-follow-my-blog.com.
I am living proof that love at first sight is real and can be enduring.
1918. One Friday night in late fall at a farmhouse a few miles out of Darrington, Washington.
Nineteen-year-old WIlliam E. Reece (Bill) wearily crept up the back stairs to his room, followed by sounds of merriment from the living room below. How had well-meaning friends and neighbors discovered he was to report for military duty on Monday? He’d only received the news today. “The last thing I need is a farewell party,” he muttered. “But not appearing would be rude. In case it was supposed to be a surprise, I won’t spoil it by dressing up.”
Slipping into jeans and a dark blue, open-necked flannel shirt, Bill stepped into the hall and started down the stairs. He stopped short. A dark-haired girl with eyes as blue as his own looked up from a couch, where she sat between with a uniformed soldier and a sailor.
Bill blinked. Swallowed hard, feeling as if lightning had struck.
Pearl Towne, home from her teaching job forty miles away, had come with her sister Vera, who taught school a little way from the Reece farm and boarded with them during the week. Pearl took one look at the man on the stairs. Who was this casually clad stranger, so in contrast with the other more formally dressed men? It doesn’t matter, her heart shouted. He’s mine.
“May I get you a glass of water?” one of her companions asked.
She nodded and he went toward the kitchen.
Bill cleared the bottom steps with a bound. He slid into the seat beside Pearl and calmly appropriated the picture album her other escort had been showing her. “I can explain it better,” he said, “since it’s my family.”
Pearl hid a gasp. This must be Bill, eldest Reece son, and soon to be a soldier. A pang went through her. Why hadn’t she met him before? And why was she so upset at the thought of him going away to fight and perhaps never returning?
The rest of the evening passed in a blur. Bill never left her side, even when the sailor returned with water and glared at him. Pearl smiled to herself, thanked the scowling man, drank the water, and secretly rejoiced. When the party ended and the guests from town donned warm coats for the five-mile walk home, the soldier eagerly asked, “May I see you home, Miss Towne?”
“No. I shall,” the sailor put in.
“That won’t be necessary.” Bill smiled. “Miss Towne is staying here with her sister tonight.”
The next day Bill and his brother walked Pearl and Vera home. Neither Bill nor Pearl ever looked at another would-be sweetheart, despite dire warnings. “Schoolteachers are high-toned,” Bill’s friends said. “She will never care for a logger like you.”
“Don’t set your cap for Bill Reece,” Pearl was advised, “Every single girl up and down the Skagit River is after him.”
They ignored the gloom-and-doom predictions. Camp Lewis stopped taking recruits before Bill had to report for duty, as the Spanish Flu hit like a hurricane. The Armistice was signed on November 11th. Bill never had to go to war. After five wonderful years of courtship, during which Pearl returned to teach near Darrington, she and Bill married. The love that began with a single look sustained them through the loss of their first child, the Great Depression, wars, and other hardships.
My two brothers and I never tired of hearing Dad and Mom’s better-than-a-fairytale story that remained strong until Dad passed away in 1968. When would-be suitors showed interest, Mom just smiled. She’d had the best.
Love at first sight? Absolutely.