Each year Feb. 14 marks the celebration of Valentine's Day, a holiday that began as a Christian celebration and evolved into a day of romantic expression.
And for those who have spent their lives together, the holiday is just as special as for those in new relationships.
Gilbert and Louise Ricketts have been married for 49 years. Saturday, the Relay residents plan to get ice cream cones from the Ice Cream Cottage in Arbutus.
The couple met in catechism class in the basement of Salem Lutheran Church in Catonsville.
"I was attracted to her," said Gilbert, 69, who was 13 at the time. "So I started teasing her."
Louise, 68, a former crossing guard and administrative assistant, recalls how he kept kicking her chair.
"I asked him to stop and he didn't," Louise said. "So I beat him up."
Louise said Gilbert caught her eye because he was "taller than anyone else in the class."
They went to high school together, and married right after.
Both say the key to a successful marriage is compromise.
"Most people find it easier to separate, but you have to find a way to work together," Gilbert said, who retired from the Baltimore County Police Department in 2002. "We've worked through the problems that we've had."
Sharing similar interests has kept them together, they said.
"We have a lot of the same interests," Louise said. "I like camping. I like fishing."
Both said that they look forward to spending time together this weekend.
"I enjoy us being together, but I also enjoy calling my sons and wishing them a happy Valentine's Day," Louise Ricketts said of the couple's two children.
New girl in town
Longtime Catonsville residents Edgar and Mary Webb, have been married for 51 years.
For the Winters Lane residents, Valentine's Day is just another day to celebrate their love.
The couple first met when Edgar Webb was 21 and Mary was 18.
Mary, 72, had just moved to Catonsville, where Edgar, 75, grew up.
All the guys in town were clamoring to meet the new girl, she said.
A mutual friend introduced them, although it took awhile.
"It took me about four different times to meet him, because he was always so busy," Mary said.
"For some reason, we kind of clicked a little bit," said Edgar, who played basketball and ran track. "I told her, I said, 'I'd like to come back and visit you sometime.'"
Mary said she was attracted to the man who would become her husband because he was a sharp dresser.
"When he came around, he always looked good," she said. "That just took it right there."
Edgar said he was attracted to Mary because of her intelligence.
She was a student at then-Coppin State College who was going places, he said.
"I've always liked intelligent women," said the retired General Motors employee, "I've never liked airheads."
The second time around
Halethorpe residents Bud and Joan Lucas have been married for nearly 38 years.
For them, Feb. 14 means "being in love, going out and having a nice time," said Joan Lucas, 81, seated next to her 89-year-old husband, who wore a heart tie.
The couple will attend the Valentine's Day dance at the American Legion Dewey Lowman Post 109 in Arbutus and spend the night dancing with friends.
On their second marriage, the couple met after Joan had just gone through a divorce and Bud's first wife had died.
Joan was friends with Bud's wife and she thought of him more as a brother.
But when the two were set up on a date by Bud's former mother-in-law and Joan's mother, who were friends, the sparks flew.
They went to a dance, one of their favorite pastimes.
When Joan danced with another man, Bud said, "Hey, what are you doing? You came here with me.'" Joan said.
But she told him, "Well, I'm going home with you."
"After our first date, I knew that had to be it," Bud said.
He talked to his first wife's mother, who asked them to wait six months before getting married. They dated for six months and were married on Oct. 15, Bud's birthday.
"I tell you, I am so fortunate to have two of the very best wives," said Bud, moved to tears. "We've had so much fun together. We've traveled together and everything. It's the greatest thing in the world."
Persistence pays off
When Dawn Strumsky, 68, met her husband of 42 years, John Strumsky, 74, at the first Baltimore City Fair in 1970, she never expected to fall in love.
Dawn, who worked in former Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer's administration, said she had volunteered to organize the fair and was working at the information booth.
"This gentleman came up and asked a question, and it was John," Dawn said, pointed to her grinning husband. "Five minutes later, he came back up and asked me a stupid question."
That didn't bode well with Dawn, who was busy giving people relevant information about the event.
"I told him, 'If you don't leave me alone, see that policeman over there? I'll have you thrown out,'" Dawn said. "He came up a third time."
John was thrown out of the Baltimore City Fair.
Later in the night, the two, who now live at the Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville, ran into each other not once, but twice.
The first time was at a lounge in Parkville. "The dance floor parted like the Red Sea, and there was John standing there at the end," Dawn recalled.
John said it was Dawn's eyes that grabbed his attention
They danced and John asked Dawn for her name. But she was put off by John's age. He was 30 and in the Marine Corps and she was 24.
"I said, 'No, I'm not going to get involved with a man of the world.'" Dawn said.
She left without telling John her name.
Later that night, Dawn and her friend were about to leave the Bel-Loc Diner on East Joppa Road when John appeared.
"It was just amazing," John said. "Three times in one night."
Still, she wouldn't give him her name. John, however, was so intrigued that he got Dawn's last name from her friend.
"I kept calling and calling, and she had her parents intercepting," John said.
But his persistence paid off, and the couple eventually went on their first date. They were married in 1972.
"When I'm not near her, I still long for her," John said. "She's my best friend."