Still enjoying the music
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Desmond and Margaret Harris met at a Missouri Heights Schoolhouse dance, one spring evening in 1945.
“Could I dance back then?” Margaret asked her husband of 57 years.
Eighty-three-year-old Desmond Harris’ youthful expression revealed a once bashful young man, his wide-mouth smile and eyes as big as a 5-year-olds’ on Christmas morning.
“Oh yeah, you could dance, sure,” he responded.
“He probably would have never picked me up on the street if I couldn’t dance,” Margaret said with a chuckle.
In 1945 Desmond was a 20-year-old strapping young man who had just returned from doing his duty in the U.S. Navy.
“I didn’t dance at all in high school,” Desmond admitted.
Arthur Murphy dance lessons while he was stationed in San Diego changed that. And as if fate had sent them both an invitation, they ended up at the dance at the one-room schoolhouse.
Margaret was a little younger than Desmond. She was only 13-years-old, a freshmen in high school. But that didn’t stop her from asking Desmond to dance.
“In the old time dances they always had a woman’s choice dance,” Margaret said.
Desmond was the lucky one that night as Margaret made her way across the room and asked him if he would like to give it a try.
“I had seen him at some of the dances we went to in Carbondale and Basalt,” Margaret admitted. “We danced together for the first time that night.”
And it wouldn’t be the last.
However, the two wouldn’t see one another for the next five years. Desmond continued working and living in Glenwood Springs while Margaret finished high school and went off to business school.
Margaret returned home to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1950 and started working in Glenwood Springs as a book keeper for a local Buick dealership. She recalls seeing Desmond again at a basketball game she attended.
“Desmond was the manager of the downtown basketball team and my uncle used to play for the team,” Margaret said. “I would go and watch them play.”
But she never approached Desmond. She left that up to him.
One night, as Margaret was walking home from one of the basketball games, a car pulled up beside her on the street, Desmond was driving.
“He stopped and asked, ‘Can I give you a ride home?’,” Margaret said. “And that’s it. We’ve been together ever since, 57 years this month.”
A lifetime and a family with four children, all spurred from a single dance in a one-room schoolhouse.
The old Missouri Heights Schoolhouse remains today, a little weathered but just as stable as the Harris’ marriage. The couple return three or four times every summer to the place where they met. This summer they’ve made the trip only once, but it’s a trip that Margaret is passionate about continuing.
“We usually go up there to see how it’s changed,” she said.
In 2001, the couple returned to the schoolhouse to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. It was the obvious choice in Margaret’s mind.
“Oh, it was wonderful. Wasn’t it?” she asked Desmond.
Again his boyish smile took over his face.
“Oh yeah,” he responded.
“Everyone came and there must have been 150 people up there at least,” Margaret said.
And it just happened to fall on the same day of the week that they were married ” Saturday, September 29. And Margaret felt the same as she had 56 years earlier, looking at Desmond and knowing that he was the one she wanted to ask to dance.
“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Margaret said.
Desmond didn’t respond in words to Margaret’s comment, he didn’t have to. You could see in his boyish smile that he felt the same.
Contact John Gardner: 384-9114
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