BELPRE - On Valentine's Day there are many ways to tell someone how much they are loved and it is a time to recall the things that drew couples together.
Two Belpre couples who have been together for more than 50 years shared what brought them and kept them together.
Charlie and Irene Heldman met accidentally 55 years ago.
JEFFREY SAULTON Special to The Times
Bud and Betty Parsons of Belpre have been together for 58 years. A few months after they were married he was drafted for service in the Korean War although they were married and had a child.
"We were at the same place at the same time," she said. "We had friends in common and they got us together later."
Their married life started with some time apart.
"We were married on July 15 and he left for the U.S. Air Force on July 18," she said. "He was there for four years."
Heldman went through basic training in New York but they were together later when he was stationed in Illinois.
"We lived in a trailer for about eight months and then I went to Louisiana for three or four years."
By 1960 they were back in the Mid-Ohio Valley living in Marietta and he took a job at a local chemical plant. They moved from Marietta to Belpre in 1972 for two reasons.
"It was closer to work and we needed a bigger house with four children," she said.
One of their children was born in Illinois, one in Louisiana and the others were born in Marietta. They said their secret for long marriage has been they just live it from day to day and try to work out any problems they face. They also said they believed it was important for their children to have two parents.
"So many children do not have that today," Irene said.
Today they have six grandchildren, two step grandchildren and two step great-grandchildren.
For Bud and Betty Parsons their relationship took a year before they decided they were right for each other.
"He used to ride his motorcycle around town and I worked at the Davis Drive, in north Parkersburg," she said.
They have been married for 58 years, and they were separated soon after their marriage by Uncle Sam.
"I lived in Glenville," he said. "I never changed my residency so when Gilmer County had to draft men for the service I was one of them, even with a wife and child. I was drafted and went to Korea."
During his time there he said he never had to worry too much about being in harm's way.
"I was a supply sergeant," he said. "So I spent most of my time indoors in a warehouse making sure all the supplies went where they were needed."
While he was in Korea, Betty was in Parkersburg with one child and a second child on the way.
"It was rough going," she said. "We lived in his parents' garage apartment. I didn't know how to drive and his parents had to take me everywhere. I learned to drive just before he was discharged."
When they were reunited Betty said he had some adjusting to do on the home front.
"When he came back two years later he came home to a child he had never seen and making up with the other," she said.
Before he was drafted and after he came back Parsons went to work at the Ames plant in Parkersburg for a total of 36 years of service. Betty spent most of her time as a homemaker although she did some work for Yunker's Manufacturing in Parkersburg.
About 50 years ago they moved from the apartment in Parkersburg to raise their three children just outside of the Belpre city limits.
"We have five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren," she said.