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Posted: February 14, 2018

Valentine’s Day: This amazing love story begins with a blind date and wedding days later

The History Of Valentine’s Day

By Helena Oliviero, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

LaNelle and Perry Holland’s love story begins with a blind date on a winter evening in 1968.

A mutual friend invited LaNelle to join him in a gathering at Perry’s house in Kennesaw, Georgia. By the time LaNelle arrived, the roads were slick with ice. It was too dangerous to drive anywhere.

>> Read more trending news 

The Hollands’ first date never left a living room couch.

Instantly smitten, LaNelle and Perry stayed up through the night talking about music, politics, sports (they were both passionate Georgia Tech football fans).

Just a few days later, Perry proposed. 

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Sometimes people wait years, even decades, to find The One. For this lucky couple now in their early 70s, they were struck by Cupid’s arrow on a quiet winter evening and then tied the knot after knowing each other just two weeks.

What they didn’t know back in 1968 is how they would grow together and develop a passion for teaching and caring for children in their community. They would speak up, even march for social justice.

Read more about their amazing love story and how they would build a family beyond their own here at myajc.com. 


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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This amazing love story begins with blind date and wedding days later

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This amazing love story begins with blind date and wedding days later

LaNelle and Perry Holland shortly after they got married in 1968. CONTRIBUTED

Lost wedding gown returned to owner 32 years later

A box that was supposed to contain the gown a bride’s mother wore on her wedding day contained nothing but a stranger’s dress.

The dress that Ame Bartlebaugh wanted to wear at her upcoming wedding was missing, The Miami Herald reported.

>> Read more trending news 

She had an unwanted gown and needed to track down the one that was rightfully hers.

“I really had my heart set on using my mother’s veil, but I immediately knew this wasn’t the dress,” Bartlebaugh told The Miami Herald.

And while she didn’t have her gown, she wanted to get the dress to its rightful owner.

But where could Bartlebaugh turn to find her?

The dry cleaners that were tasked with preserving the heirloom went out of business years ago, The Miami Herald reported

So with that dead end, she did what anyone in this day and age would: She turned to social media for help

A bride’s plea for help was answered the same day, and in less than 24 hours, the dress, with long sleeves and tiered ruffles that Bartlebaugh found in her grandmother’s attic, was on the way to its owner. 

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Michelle Havrilla found out her gown was missing in 2013, when her basement flooded. She opened the preservation box after and discovered a gown that wasn’t hers. But now, thanks to social media and Bartlebaugh’s efforts, Havrilla has her gown more than 30 years after she walked down the aisle.

The story, however, is yet to have a happy ending for Bartlebaugh. Her mother’s dress is still nowhere to be found. So she has reached out on social media, hoping to have the same resolution as Havrilla, The Miami Herald reported

Table for two: Waffle House offers romantic dinner for Valentine's Day

Couples looking for a romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day don’t need to book a table at a fancy, high-priced restaurant. For the 11th year, Waffle House is taking reservations.

>> Read more trending news

Waffle House? 

“I would kill you if you took me there for Valentine’s Day,” my wife said, narrowing her eyes and casting them toward the living room couch.

OK, it’s not for everyone, but Waffle House takes its Valentine’s Day dinners seriously. At 170 locations across 17 states across the Northeast, South, Midwest and as far west as Texas, Waffle House will dress up its restaurants with candlelights, tablecloths and flowers. 

"A perfect Valentine's dinner consists of soft music, great food and a welcoming atmosphere," Walt Ehmer, Waffle House CEO, said in a news release. "And we have all three waiting for those who are ready."

>> Waffle House to host romantic Valentine’s Day dinner

Waffle House began its Valentine’s Day tradition in 2008 at its location in Johns Creek, Georgia. Ehmer said the concept is growing every year.

“It’s really a bucket-list experience,” he said in the release.

So, if Bert’s ChiliAlice’s Iced Tea and Waffle House’s traditional fare of eggs, bacon, ham, sausage and hash browns make you dewy-eyed and sentimental, now is the time to make reservations.

. So, go ahead and scrap the box of chocolates you were planning on buying, make a reservation at Waffle House, and serve your sweetheart Papa Joe’s pork chop, Bert’s Chili, or the cheesesteak omelet of their dreams.

Here is the full list of locations.

Valentine's Day 2018: 6 ways to eat for free or cheap

From flowers to a gift to dinner out, Valentine's Day can be an expensive holiday.

>> White Castle will offer romantic Valentine’s Day package, reservations again

To help you save some money, these restaurants are offering some cheap or free Valentine's Day meals.

Hooters

If you're without a significant other this Valentine's Day – or even if you've found a new sweetie and want to score some free wings – participating Hooters locations will help you shred your ex. Shred online and print a coupon to take to the restaurant or bring in a photo of your former love and let Hooters shred it. In return, you can buy 10 boneless wings and get 10 free – and maybe a bit of catharsis. Learn more at www.hooters.com.

Fogo de Chão

If you make a reservation and dine at a participating Fogo's location anytime from Feb. 10 through Feb. 17, you'll be able to save on a return visit. You'll receive a complimentary churrasco dining card that you can use next time you're in the restaurant. (As is usually the case, "certain restrictions apply.") Learn more at http://fogodechao.com. 

Qdoba Mexican Eats

Take advantage of the restaurant's "Qdoba for a Kiss" promotion, and you'll be able to buy one entrée and get one free at participating restaurants on Feb. 14. Bring your significant other to kiss, smooch a photo of your favorite celebrity on your cellphone or even pucker up to a burrito – anything goes! 

On top of that sweet deal, from Feb. 6-28, if you share a kissing photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #QdobaForAKiss, Qdoba will donate $1 to No Kid HungryFor more information, visit www.qdoba.com.

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse offers a Valentine's Day meal for two at participating restaurants from Feb. 12-16. For a special price (which varies by location), a couple can share a Bloomin' Onion, choose two entrees (center cut sirloin, grilled salmon or Alice Springs chicken), two sides, two salads and cheesecake for dessert. Learn more at www.outback.com.

California Pizza Kitchen

Enjoy a "Sweet Deal for Two" at participating California Pizza Kitchen locations from Feb. 14 to 18, and you'll get an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert from their special menu for $35. Choose from among three appetizers, 10 entrees or four desserts. As a further incentive, if you tag your sweetie or best friend in California Pizza Kitchen's Facebook post with the hashtag #CPKgiveaway, you'll be entered to win a $100 gift card. Learn more at www.cpk.com.

Waffle House 

Waffle House probably isn't the restaurant you think of when you're picturing a candlelit dinner with cloth napkins and tablecloths, but that's just what they're doing on Valentine's Day. You can enjoy alcohol-free champagne as the lights are dimmed, and choose from breakfast favorites or special offerings like ribeye and eggs. Many locations are participating, so check for your location's phone number and contact person for reservationsLearn more at ww.wafflehouse.com.

>> Read more trending news 

>> Table for two: Waffle House offers romantic dinner for Valentine's Day

  Table for two: Waffle House offers romantic dinner for Valentine's Day
  White Castle will offer romantic Valentine’s Day package, reservations again
 

Single on Valentine’s Day? Study finds singles have better overall relationships

Single people have it rough in February.

>> Read more trending news 

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the scramble to find Mr. or Mrs. Right — or even Right Now — is as hot as ever. To spend the holiday alone — amid the showers of PDA, discounted couple’s meals, elaborate gifts, inevitable proposals, weddings and the endless photos on social media capturing it all — seems tantamount to turning on a giant neon “Loser” sign. Truthfully, those entrenched in singledom actually know that that’s far from the truth, but now there’s scientific evidence to support that idea!

According to the “Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,” even though marriage is seen as society’s happiest ending, single people have better relationships overall.

>> Related: Royal lovebirds Harry and Meghan have big plans for Valentine’s Day

The study published in 2015 found, “Single individuals are more likely to frequently stay in touch with, provide help to, and receive help from parents, siblings, neighbors and friends than the married.”

The study also discovered single men and women tended to have more social interactions with people and, therefore, had stronger bonds. While married people have each other, single people have everyone else, and it’s seemingly creating better, intertwined communities. 

>> Related: Idris Elba proposes to Sabrina Dhowre at film screening

The researchers found that instead of pushing for more marriages, public policy “acknowledge the social constraints associated with marriage and recognize that single individuals have greater involvement with the broader community.”

According to Indy100, the study lead to a May 2017 TED talk with speaker Bella DePaulo. DePaulo, a doctor of psychology and author, raised the argument that the stories of married people were more likely to be told and promoted in the news and pop culture and even in laws than those who are single. She then delved into the benefits of single life in society saying, “It’s the single people who have more friends … who are contributing to the life of their cities.” She concluded that happiness doesn’t come from marriage, and that single people tend to be “less lonely.”

>> Related: 10 things to do on Valentine’s Day if you’re single

“With so many big, important components of life available outside of marriage for both women and men, what’s left for people who want marriage to maintain its special place in our lives? One possibility is to insist that there is still one thing we single people can only get by marrying – and that is genuine happiness,” she said.

DePaulo continued, “Now we know that’s just not so. And we can all benefit from that. Married people, now that you know some of the secrets of a successful single life, feel free to steal them to add new shades of bliss to your lives. And single people, you know what to do: go out and live your single lives fully, joyfully, and unapologetically.”

>> Related: Valentine's Day 2018: 6 ways to eat for free or cheap

It seems single people are going to be just fine even if no one sends them a dozen roses or a box of chocolates — and there’s plenty to do on their own.

Man honors wife’s memory after buying her flowers for 59 years 

It’s Friday happy hour at Lakeline Oaks Retirement Resort and the boxed wine is flowing.

>> Read more trending news

Nearly 40 residents crowd the lounge, where a folk singer is crooning and a line dance to “Elvira” is under discussion.

But when Andy Carver enters the room, with a bright bouquet of flowers tucked behind his back, everyone turns to watch.

They know that Andy is here, as he is every Friday, to surprise a fellow resident with flowers. But more than that, they know that each bouquet he presents doubles as a tribute to his late wife, Brigitte.

Andy and Brigitte -- for 59 years, it was those two names, those two lives, intertwined into one.

He knew he was going to marry her the first time he set eyes on her in a restaurant in Rudesheim, Germany. He was stationed with the Army in a neighboring town, and she was a German native working as a registered nurse in Frankfurt.

“I was finishing dinner and I saw this beautiful blonde,” said Andy 84. “I kept looking at her. (I told my friend), ‘I’m going to marry that girl.’ I knew she was the right person. I just knew it.”When he saw her again later that night at a pub, he asked her to dance.

“We went out on the dance floor, and I started with my limited vocabulary of spoken German,” he said. “She laughed, and we hit it off.”

On their first date, he arrived with flowers. But they weren’t for her.

“I gave them to the housemother,” he said laughing. “I had to butter her up.”

From then on, though, all bouquets were for Brigitte.

Her favorites were white carnations. And on the day that Andy had the honor of marrying “the prettiest girl in Germany” in late 1957, that’s what she carried.

With everything their nearly six-decade life together would bring, including a move to Texas and two daughters, fresh flowers would remain a constant.

Every Friday, Andy stopped to pick up a bouquet for Brigitte. Sometimes it would be white carnations, other times roses, his favorite.

“I mixed it up quite a bit,” he said.

She’d arrange them and he’d watch as her face would glow like a new bloom in a sun shower.

“She just loved it, and I just loved to see her smile,” he said. “I loved to make her happy.”

In the framed photographs that adorn Andy’s apartment, the decades flit by in seconds. Their first date. Their wedding. Their 50th anniversary celebration.

Their life together “was the most exciting experience you could have ever had,” Andy said, transitioning to present tense as he recalled the memories. “We’ve done more, been more places, seen more things.”Brigitte entered hospice care last year on March 6 due to complications from a stroke, and eight days later, on March 14, she died.

They had spent 59 years, four months, two weeks, 17 hours and 15 minutes together. Now, he was alone.

He sold their home and moved into Lakeline Oaks, where he attempted to grapple with his sadness.

“It was a type of grief I can’t explain,” he said. “I would start something and I couldn’t finish it or I’d worry about something I couldn’t control.”

A few months after he started living there, Andy heard that his neighbors were ill and decided to take them a bouquet of roses.

“It just cheered them both up. They were delighted,” Andy said. “I knew that was something I was missing. (I told my daughters,) ‘I think it would make me feel good if I would do that every week for someone.’”

He decided that every Friday, he would buy a bouquet and present it during happy hour. Since the summer, he’s presented 35 bouquets at Lakeline Oaks.

His goal is to give one to every single or widowed woman at the property, which he thinks will take him about 18 months. Usually he buys the bouquets at Randall’s, where they now know him personally.

“When I first got here, I knew no one,” he said. “I think now I can go to almost any table in that dining room and sit down with one of my ‘flower girls.’”

Tamela Orell, lifestyle director at Lakeline Oaks, said the community has embraced Andy’s mission.

“It brings him a lot of joy,” Orell said. “And the residents love it. Everybody here knows why he does it.”

During a recent happy hour, Andy presented a bouquet to resident Billie Tips, 93, who had a birthday coming up.

“They’re beautiful. They’re gorgeous. It’s nice to be remembered,” Tips said. “This put a smile on my face.”

And that, of course, is the point — to conjure smiles in honor of the girl with the prettiest smile he ever knew.

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