Nearly seven decades after they dated as teenagers, Frank and Ada are getting married.
Frank Gray and Ada Hatch, both 85 years old, are set to wed this Valentine’s Day in St. Thomas Anglican Church in Ellsworth in a small ceremony surrounded by close family. Their nuptials may seem unlikely – both were married to other people for more than 60 years, with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren thrown into the mix – but anyone spending a few minutes with the pair can see that theirs is a match truly made in heaven.
They finish each other’s sentences, laugh at the same wry jokes, and their eyes twinkle when they look at each other.
“My body doesn’t tell me, but sometimes I feel just like 16 again,” Frank said with a smile. Ada just laughed.
Frank and Ada were students at the former Bar Harbor High School in 1946 when they caught each other’s eye. Frank had grown up in Hulls Cove, while Ada moved to the area from her home on Route 9 way Down East so she could go to school, just as her siblings had done. The pair liked each other a lot, but six months or so into their relationship, something changed. Frank said another boy entered the picture; Ada said it was just a misunderstanding.
“She turned me out,” Frank said.
“For a sailor boy, he says,” Ada added. “We had a misunderstanding, and we couldn’t talk. He couldn’t call me, he said, because he had an eight-party line.”
Frank agreed that he couldn’t call her on the phone, for fear that his entire neighborhood on Crooked Road would be listening to the conversation.
“That was before television,” he said. “The biggest entertainment for the ladies in the area was to listen in to our telephone communications.”
Whatever it was that separated the couple, they managed to stay friendly over the years. Each got busy with their own families. Frank and his wife raised two boys, while Ada and her husband nurtured four boys and three girls. They would see each other here and there, say “hello.” Still, Frank said, “There’s always been kind of a warm feeling towards her.”
Frank’s wife died a couple of years ago, and Ada’s husband passed away last September after a long battle with dementia. It wasn’t long after that Frank called her on the phone and asked her to supper.
“It was awful hard for me, but I waited a month before I called her,” Frank said. “I knew I should have waited a year maybe or something; she tells me there was different ones that told her that she should wait. But I was afraid there might be another sailor in the background somewhere.”
Ada said she was pretty floored by Frank’s call, but curious as well. At first she said “no.”
“I had been married 66 years. So, I blew my kids’ minds when Frank called me up and wanted to know if he could take me out to dinner,” she said. “Three of the kids knew who Frank was, but the others didn’t know. They thought Daddy was the only one I had ever gone out with.”
Since that first date at Helen’s restaurant back in November, the pair have been seeing plenty of each other. They enjoy regular swims at the YMCA, shopping, spending time and shoveling snow together, Ada joked.
“We’re comfortable with each other. Make a good team, I think,” she said.
After many more dates, and much discussion, the pair decided that getting married, at least in the eyes of God, was something they were ready to do. They couldn’t just live together, because “we weren’t brought up that way,” Frank said.
Ada wanted to marry on a Saturday so some of her kids and grandkids could make it. Frank scanned the calendar for a date. He landed on Valentine’s Day by accident, he said, but it seems to have worked out for the best.
“I said it had to be before Ash Wednesday or after Easter, and I didn’t want to wait,” he said. “So now I tell everybody … well, buying presents, why I’ll be able to buy one for both occasions.”
Frank and Ada plan to live together in Salisbury Cove.