Paul and Clara Harris share a love story that’s withstood the test of time.
It wasn’t long after they met in 1949 that they had to overcome that initial test — the first date.
“She liked my brother-in-law more than me on the first date,” Paul says of their dinner with his sister and her husband. “But he was taken, so that left me.”
In spite of that, Paul, 100, and Clara, 90, discovered they had a lot in common. Both employees for the Dallas Independent School District, they met while Clara was working as a rotating speech therapist at the Davy Crockett School.
“She was a very pretty young lady, and I was delighted by that,” Paul says. “The Crockett School had a grand staircase, and she was a vision on that staircase.”
Yet it was a year before Paul decided to ask Clara on a date. As the school’s principal, he thought it would be ill advised to date single teachers. But because Clara was only working at Davy Crockett two days a week, he decided to make an exception.
The CC Young residents started dating steady in 1950. And their first date wouldn’t be the last time Clara would keep Paul wondering about her affection.
When Paul proposed, she waited a week before giving him her answer. Paul claims his future bride had to go home and cut loose a few other beaus — which, actually, happens to be true.
“I had another boyfriend who was a fine fellow, but he was very unsettled,” Clara says. “That was the reason I made (Paul) wait. I had to get my mind around it.”
The two were at a movie screening a week later when Clara finally gave him her answer.
“I’d given her a ring, an expensive ring, and I saw no sign of it,” Paul says. “Midway through the broadcast, she peels off her glove, and there’s my diamond.
“In my mind, I’d decided that if she didn’t accept, I’d cash in that ring and go to South America. I probably wouldn’t have done it because I’m not the adventurous type, but I was going to do something.”
Nine months after they started dating, the Harrises were married on an unseasonably hot day in June at Denton’s Little Chapel in the Woods. After being baked in the sun, the first thing they did after the reception was stop at the only open restaurant they could find and buy a snow cone without any flavor.
The couple kept that fun-loving spirit throughout their marriage as they raised their four children. Their 67 years together are filled with good memories of a cross-country road trip in an RV much too small for a family of six, as well as painful ones stemming from the death of their oldest child in a bicycle accident.
“We leaned a lot on each other,” Clara says. “You never forget, but you move on. We loved our kids. We had fun, and that’s what helps get you through the hard times. It’s been a really good life.”
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