GENE: I walked into the office one day and saw Marlene sitting there. I gazed at her and vowed: I am going to meet her; I am going to marry her someday. I don’t know when, but I’m going to marry her.
MARLENE: To me, he was just somebody who worked in the office; that was about it.
GENE: She was like manna from heaven. It was as if the Holy Ghost descended upon her head. I couldn’t erase the vision of her out of my mind. I thought, well there you go—she’s the one.
MARLENE: Marrying him never even entered my mind at that point.
GENE: I did all I could to talk to her outside the office. I got my first chance when one of the girls at work got married—Mary Jane Brown. I knew Marlene was going to be at the wedding, so I made sure I was there too.
MARLENE: If someone had asked,“Are you going to marry him?” I would have answered,“Who knows?”
GENE: She had this favorite blue dress that looked good on her, and boy, could she dance! I thought, I have to ask her to dance with me. I don’t think she will, but I will try anyway.Well, we danced, and then I asked her for a date, and that’s how things go!
MARLENE: There were several times when we found each other at the same social event, and I don’t think it was accidental. Sometimes the younger people in the office went out after work, and I remember going to a couple of dances with CSMC— the Catholic Student Mission Crusade—and he was there.
Of course, if I hadn’t been Catholic, he probably would not have been going out with me.That was the main point with him.
GENE: She’s right about that. I always tried to find out if the girl was Catholic.
MARLENE: I would have broken you down anyway!
Our first date was in February of 1956.We went to the movies—downtown of course. Going downtown made a date more special than just staying in the neighborhood.We went to the Lowe’s Valencia Theater on Lexington Street. I still remember the ceiling painted with the sky and stars.
GENE: We saw a double feature: The Man Who Never Was and The Glenn Miller Story.
MARLENE: At the end of the date he told me he would call me, and I said,“Okay.” I think he was playing it cool, as if to say,“I’m not that smitten with her. I won’t ask for a second date right away, I’ll make her wait a while.” But that first date was on a Friday, and he called the following Sunday for the second date.
What impressed me about Gene was that he was always honest. Some boys just gave girls a whole line of stuff, but he was straight, to the point and sincere. And I always had fun with him.
GENE: Our relationship moved right along.We had a date on a Saturday night in December…
MARLENE: It was December 1.
GENE: Right. I came to her house to pick her up, and with her parents there with us in the living room, I asked her to show me the ring she wore all the time. I pulled a sparkling diamond out of my pocket and slipped it on her finger.