63-Year Honeymoon Began With A Lift

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Paul Wilson and his daughter, Marty Smith i

Paul Wilson and his daughter Marty Smith visited StoryCorps in Wichita, Kan. StoryCorps hide caption

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Paul Wilson and his daughter, Marty Smith

Paul Wilson and his daughter Marty Smith visited StoryCorps in Wichita, Kan.


Before Paul Wilson was drafted into the Army Air Corps during World War II, he worked on the top floor of a building in Wichita, Kan.

"One day I was waiting in the lobby for the elevator, the door slid aside and there she stood — the prettiest girl I had ever seen," Wilson, now 93, told his daughter, Marty Smith. "She was the operator. Now, she wasn't beauty-queen type, she was next-door type — only prettier."

There were three or four other people on the elevator, Wilson explained.

"I was the last one on floor No. 10 and she opened the door and I said 'thank you' and she said 'you're welcome.' That was the total conversation, the first contact," he said.

Wilson saw the young lady again over the next few days, but says he was "so backward and bashful that I didn't say anything to her except, '10'." Then one day his girl-next-door-but-prettier elevator beauty broke the ice: "She said, 'Do you know where you can get some good chop suey?'"

The two had chop suey at a restaurant across the street from the building and got acquainted.

"I found out her name was Wilma, she found out my name was Paul," he said. "I found out that she was divorced and had a 2-year-old girl, she found out I was about to be drafted."

Two days later Wilma brought her daughter Barbara downtown.

"She had a little red snow suit, white fur hat, white fur muff that she was proud of and when her mother introduced me to her, she held her arms out to me and I was done for," he said.

Wilson went away to war and Wilma and Barbara waited three years for his return. Three days after he returned, they married in his mother's living room.

"We had a 63-year honeymoon," Wilson told their daughter Marty. "We were real lovers and every day is a memorial for her."

Wilma Wilson died last year. Her daughter Barbara died in 1992.

Produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.



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