RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Time now for another conversation from Story Corps. This project is recording interviews between loved ones across the country. Today, we'll hear from Paul Wilson. He's 93 years old, and he looked back in a talk with his daughter, Marty Smith, on how he met her mother.
It was the 1940s, and Paul was working on the top floor of an office building in Wichita, Kansas.
Mr. PAUL WILSON: 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. She was the operator. Now, she wasn't beauty-queen type, she was next-door type - only prettier.
Mr. WILSON: There were three or four other people on the elevator, and I was the last one on floor number 10. And she opens the door and I said, thank you. And she said, you're welcome. That was the total conversation that first contact. Of course, in the next few days, I saw her but I was so backward and bashful that I didn't say anything to her except: 10. She said, yes, I know.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. WILSON: Thank goodness, she broke the ice. She said, do you know where you can get some good chop suey? How about that for an opening line.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. WILSON: I said, sure, the caf� across the street is a Chinese caf�. They serve chop suey.
Ms. MARTY SMITH: I sensed that she set that up.
Mr. WILSON: I realized later she did. When I said, I eat there every day, she said, oh? I realized I had an opening, and we had chop suey. And we got acquainted. I found out her name was Wilma. She found out my name was Paul. I found out that she was divorced and had a 2-year-old girl. She found out I was about to be drafted. Well, that wasn't good.
Well, do you know what? I think it was two days later, she brought that little girl downtown.
Ms. SMITH: This is Barbara.
Mr. WILSON: This was Barbara.
Ms. SMITH: She was my older sister.
Mr. WILSON: That's right. Barbara was 2 years old. 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.
Well, I did go away to war. Your mother waited for me three years. We got married right there in my mother's living room, and we had a 63-year honeymoon.
Ms. SMITH: Who was it that said the best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother?
Mr. WILSON: I did my best.
Ms. SMITH: Hmm, you did.
Mr. WILSON: We were real lovers, and every day is a memorial for her.
MONTAGNE: Paul Wilson talking with his daughter, Marty Smith, in Wichita, Kansas. Paul's wife, Wilma Louise Wilson, passed away last year.
This recording will be archived, along with all Story Corp interviews, at the Library of Congress. The project's podcast is at NPR.org.
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