Keeping Things in Perspective

Keeping Things in Perspective

It was the first time that the country boy was in the big city. Bob Seldon, a sailor from West Virginia, was going to Navy school in New Jersey, but on that hot, summer day, he was walking through Central Park in New York. As he neared the fountain, he came across two women. The brunette started choking on some peanuts she was eating. He went over to her and slapped her on the back. They started talking.

Four years later, in 1952, they got married.

"The moment I saw you, I knew you were the one for me," Bob, 74, said to his wife, Sue, 73.

The Seldons have been married for almost 51 years, their anniversary being three days after Valentine’s Day. The key to their marriage, the Vienna residents say, has been to listen to each other and keep things in perspective.

"Never go to bed without kissing good night. And try to talk to each other instead of screaming at each other," said Sue.

Both Sue and Bob believe their differences have complemented each other well. While Sue is the serious optimist who was born and raised in New York City, Bob, the country boy, likes to joke and tell tall tales. He laughed when Sue first encountered hogs in his family’s home in West Virginia.

"I said, they’re barking at me!" Sue recalled.

The day after Bob and Sue met, Bob went to the soda fountain at Woolworth’s on 14th Street, where Sue worked. He showed up for a chocolate sundae.

"It was the best sundae I ever ate," Bob said.

When they started seeing each other, both sets of parents were cautious. Sue’s parents didn’t want her going out with a sailor, while Bob’s didn’t know what city girls were like. But later that year, Bob was transferred to Chincoteague, Va., so the two separated.

In 1950, Sue got a letter from Bob asking to meet her again. They met. Soon afterward they planned for a wedding in 1951 but had it postponed two times because of Bob’s Navy duties. They finally wedded on Feb. 17, 1952, the same time a blizzard struck New York. As Sue walked down the aisle, her 5-foot trained wiped the mud and slush from the church floor. After the ceremony, they couldn’t find the limousine. The driver found it three days later.

"All we could do about things was laugh about it," Sue said.

They honeymooned for 1 1/2 months before settling in Washington, D.C. The first day Bob went out to get a job, he came back as a cashier for a mortgage company. He remained in the industry for 48 years.

They lived in Falls Church before settling in Vienna in 1964. A daughter was born in 1954, and a son born in 1957. They have four grandchildren.

"He’s such a good person. Very attentive, very loving. He’s always worrying about me," Sue said.

Bob replied, "She’s been a great mother to the children, a wonderful wife."