Do you believe that God has a hand in joining couples together? Well, I do.

This is a true story. …

One day, God was up in heaven looking around the earth, as he does every day. He saw this pretty little girl running around the hills of Roanoke, Virginia. Then God looked down to Sumter, S.C., and he saw a skinny little boy. I think that God decided that this beautiful hill girl would make a good wife for the skinny little Sumter boy.

He probably knew that she would keep this little boy from getting into a lot of mischief. He sent this girl to Sumter to live with her sister, Vivian, and her husband, Sydney. Sydney was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base near Sumter.

Joyce had six brothers and sisters, and their parents had split up, so Joyce’s mother had a hard time feeding the large family. So the decision was made to send her to Sumter to live with her sister for a time.

Now the little boy from Sumter was No. 10 of 10 siblings. When Gerald was 5 years old, his dad was confined to a wheelchair because he had lost the use of his legs. Gerald’s mom had a very hard time just buying food for the family, so Gerald took a job selling peanuts on the streets of Sumter. He was 12 years old then.

By the time he was 13, he was cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, and they were sold for a quarter for a burger and 15 cents for a hot dog. He also made milkshakes, which sold for a quarter, and banana splits (35 cents). At that time, fuel cost 29.9 cents per gallon, and drive-in movie admission was 35 cents.

When Gerald was 15 years old, he was working in an open-air produce market. They were called open air because the sides would lift up and the produce was displayed all the way around the sides and the front of the tin building.

Sydney had a part-time job at the same market where Gerald was working. Sydney and Vivian had seven children. One day, Sydney asked Gerald to do him a favor. He wanted Gerald to ask his sister-in-law, Joyce, out on a date. See … Joyce liked a little boy in her class at school, but Sydney did not care for this little boy at all! So Gerald asked what her name was, and Sydney said, “Joyce McLure.” Gerald told Sydney that he was in her class at school and that she was a very pretty girl, so he agreed to ask her out.

Sydney told him that if Joyce accepted, he would give him $5 to splurge on and let him drive his brand-new Mercury for the evening.

Well … Gerald asked her, she accepted and then they dated for 18 months. Their first date was on Gerald’s 16th birthday. They were united in marriage on Dec. 7, 1957, at the Church of God in Sumter.

Joyce passed away on Jan. 2, 2017. Gerald still loves and misses her so very much.

Well ... does God join couples together? He truly joined this one for sure. They were acquaintances and in the same class in school, but she wasn’t interested in Gerald, so God had to make it happen.

This is my love story. The preacher asked me, “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, till death do you part?” I said yes.

If the preacher still asks this question, I wonder why we have so many divorces today.

Gerald K. Baker lives in Florence.

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