ROMANCE IS on the minds of west Columbians.
If you're wondering how to spend Valentine's Day with the one you love, you may be inspired by some of our neighbors' romantic memories.
Jessica Reisboard, Alvin and Doris Gregory and August Falck -- residents of Harmony Hall, a retirement Community in Hickory Ridge -- were reminiscing in the parlor last week.
"My husband was a very romantic guy. We were married at the height of the Depression, when $5 was like $50 today," Reisboard recalled.
On Valentine's Day the year they were married, Reisboard's husband, Bernard, came home with a bouquet of flowers.
Jessica Reisboard wasn't happy about the gift, she said. She couldn't think of anything but how much the bouquet must have cost, and she told her husband so.
She was carrying the flowers -- upside down -- to put them in water, when her husband called out, "Jess, you dropped something!"
Reisboard turned and saw a $50 bill on the floor.
"He had stuck the money inside the bouquet," Reisboard said. "He must have been saving a long time."
She doesn't remember how she spent the money, but she is certain of one thing. "I'm sure I spread it out," she said.
The Reisboards were married 43 years.
Alvin and Doris Gregory grew up in the Catonsville area.
Al Gregory gazed lovingly at his wife as he described the day he first noticed her.
"I was sitting outside when, lo and behold, here comes this beautiful young lady gliding down the avenue. She was all dolled up," he said.
"She looked up at me and that was it. It was love at first sight for me."
Doris Gregory laughed, "Not for me, it wasn't."
She said she had reservations about him because of his reputation as a ladies' man. Now, she said, "Every day is special with Al."
The Gregorys have been married 61 years.
Eighty-four-year-old August Falck said he married his wife, Mildred, five weeks after meeting her at a dance.
"I was quite a dancer," Falck said. "I was out six nights a week dancing."
His specialty was the Sugarfoot -- a dance popular in his day, Falck said, that involved kicks and jumps.
"Her boyfriend was a piano player in the orchestra," Falck added. "She dropped him like a hot potato after she met me."
The Falcks were married for 62 years.
Valentine's Day holds a place in the hearts of many of our neighbors.
Kim Wicks, a Dorsey's Search resident, remembers a very special Valentine's Day 14 years ago.
"When Raymond and I got married, we were both in college and didn't have much money," she said. At the ceremony, held in her mother's Austin, Texas, home, "Ray put a cigar band on my finger."
Three years into their marriage, Raymond Wicks gave his wife a heart-shaped box of chocolates on Valentine's Day. When she opened the box, Kim Wicks discovered a diamond engagement ring and a diamond wedding band -- inserted in two pieces of candy.
She licked the chocolate off the diamonds. "I was screaming and running around the house," she recalls. "I had no idea he was planning this."
Wicks smiles as she recalls her husband's elation at seeing her so excited.
Nina Sarfaraz, another Dorsey's Search resident, moved to the United States from Iran 16 years ago. "I didn't know anything about Valentine's Day," she said.
"I had been in the United States just six weeks when I went out one day to check the mail. There was a beautiful card with a picture of roses on it from my husband.
"I was so surprised. It was so sweet, and I've never forgotten it."
Dean Turner lives in Longfellow with his fiancee, Marthe Wright. Turner is a professional magician and Wright serves as his assistant when she's not teaching ballet.
His favorite Valentine's memory happened last year.
He and Wright had just given a performance for Scouts. An audience of "know-it-all 10-year-olds" can be a demanding crowd, Turner said. So the couple decided to unwind after the performance by going to dinner at Piccolo's Restaurant in Columbia.
Both still wore their costumes from the show.
"Marthe was wearing a white satin strapless gown, long gloves, and had a scarf flowing down her back," Turner recalled. He was wearing a white tux with tails.
That evening, Piccolo's had a piano player and candlelight to add atmosphere. "It was about as romantic as it gets," Turner said.
"Every day has been Valentine's Day since I met Dean," Wright said. "He's very sweet."
Her ideal Valentine's Day would be "to go somewhere nice and quiet where there are no watches, no phones, no feathers and no fur."
Animals are a part of the couple's magic show. They own 17 birds, three rabbits, three parrots and a cat.
Sandy Fairhurst, a resident of Running Brook, said her favorite Valentine's Day memory also took place last year. She spent the holiday visiting her granddaughter, Katie, in Colorado.
"Katie had gotten Valentine's cards from all her friends in nursery school. She had me read them over and over to her," Fairhurst said.
"Her eyes were dancing, it was so exciting for her. That magic of knowing that other people care for you is very special."
If you need help wooing your Valentine, consider arranging for a serenade by a barbershop quartet.
Members of the nonprofit Patapsco Valley Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America will perform two songs and deliver a card and a long-stemmed rose to your sweetheart.
Larry Klein of Riverview Estates said he enjoys delivering the singing valentines because of the reactions they get. "It's usually a pleasant surprise," he said.
Singing valentines cost $40, if orders are placed today. After today, the cost is $50.
A portion of the proceeds will go to support music education programs for young people.
Pub Date: 2/10/99