Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

When Babs Dyer was growing up, she remembered the affection her parents showed toward each other. When Dyer was a teen-ager, she found her father's poetry to her mother while snooping around in the basement. When her mother was busy with a project, her father picked up the household chores.

"They taught me home is the most important part of life," said the Fairfax resident. Dyer has been married for 26 years. "They're the most loving couple I've ever known in my life ... they are the model that every married couple should have."

Dyer's parents, Bob and Sue Seldon of Vienna, have been married for almost 51 years, their anniversary being three days after Valentine’s Day. Both Bob and Sue 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.

They say the key to their marriage 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.

It was the first time that the country boy was in the big city. Bob, 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 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 and soon afterward planned for a wedding in 1951, but they 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 train 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.

The Seldons lived in Falls Church before settling in Vienna in 1964. A daughter was born in 1954 and a son 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."

Even in their 70s, Dyer said she still sees the love between her parents. Every year, she and her father go Christmas shopping for her mother.

"Even if we're shopping, she's his princess," Dyer said.

Her husband, Tuck, has also observed the bond between the two.

"They are a pair, for sure. I've never really thought of them as separate entities. They complement each other so well," Tuck Dyer said.

This year, the Seldons plan to have a quiet anniversary and Valentine's Day. Later in the spring, they may go to Nashville, so Bob can see the Grand Ole Opry. Although Sue doesn't really like country music, she'll come along.

"We try to please each other," Sue said.

Their bond continues to be an inspiration to Dyer.

"It's truly such a cliché — a darling, romantic couple that have grown old together," Dyer said. "They're as cute and snugly as the day they met."