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Valentine's Day - and Always

Every day is a day of love.

Posted: February 11, 2008 12:52 p.m.
Updated: April 13, 2008 2:03 a.m.
As we approach Valentine's Day, it seems appropriate to look at the kind of "romance" that keeps couples together for 40 to 50 years and more.

Cooksons: Al and Ann Cookson were married in 1949 in Glendale. They raised four boys and now have six grandchildren. They have lived in the Santa Clarita Valley for 10 years. During their marriage, among other things, Al was a lathing contractor and Ann worked in the Pierce College cafeteria.
He said these days he enjoys computers and she enjoys housework and their grandchildren. (Though you notice she didn't say the part about housework.)
With their anniversary coming up on Feb. 26, they know their boys will give them a big party, as always, and the whole family will come, since they all live nearby.
Al Cookson said that, because their anniversary falls so close to Valentine's Day, the holiday has never been that important to them.
"Our anniversary takes precedence."
He said the couple met while he was working for Bendix in North Hollywood. A mutual friend introduced them.
"Our first date was in Newhall, at the French Village on San Fernando Road (a club)," he said. "There is a used car lot and marble place there now."
When asked for advice on how to keep happily married so long, Cookson said he wouldn't have any advice for that. "We get along good. We love each other. That's our way of staying together," he said.
Spanas: Henry "Hank" and Dorothy Spana were married in New Kensington, Pa., in 1953. The have lived in the SCV since 1960.
"We bought in the first development here, North Oaks," she said.
She said their first date was going out walking, "more or less."
Over the years they both had long careers with ITT General Controls, and they have one daughter, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Currently, they are both dedicated volunteers at the SCV Senior Center. They travel a lot and enjoy Indian casinos.
Dorothy Spana said that one of the good things about being married so long is that, after your 25th anniversary, the presents get better - silver and gold.
When it comes to Valentine's Day, she said they both have a sweet tooth. "We more or less buy each other little things. We're chocolate nuts. It's easy to buy for us."
Her advice for a long, happy marriage was to "give and take on everything."
"You can't have too many squabbles. As the years go by, we don't have anything to squabble about," she said.
Yantis: Earl and Donna Yantis will have their 40th anniversary soon. They were married in 1968 in Sepulveda and have lived in the SCV since 1970. Her career was as a special education teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District. He was "in the grocery business for 42 years."
The Yantis have seven children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She used to volunteer with the Senior Center's Home-delivered Meals program and is currently part of the Senior Center's Advisory Council. She also teaches line dancing three days a week.
The Yantis enjoy travel around the U.S. and around the world. They've been to 104 countries and islands - "lots of cruises."
Earl Yantis said the couple met through his ex-wife, who had gone to high school with Donna Yantis.
Valentine's Day is not a particularly big deal to them.
"We celebrate year-round," Dorothy Yantis said, and their advice for a good marriage showed what she meant.
""We communicate, hold hands, kiss when we go past each other. You have to be good to each other," she said.
"The man should always be thinking of the way he treated her when they first met," he said. "I still open the door for her."
"I wait until he does. That way he can't forget to," she quipped.
"And I do all the cooking (since he retired)," he said.
"It's delicious," she said.
Sanchez: Luis and Silvia Sanchez will celebrate their 45th anniversary in April, and have lived in Canyon Country since 1973. They have five children and four grandchildren, with "one on the way."
Retiring last year, Luis Sanchez made his career in heating and air-conditioning, but also spent some time as a radio announcer and nearly became a professional soccer player when he was younger.
Currently, they are volunteer drivers for the Senior Center's Home-delivered meals program. They enjoy their family, and also go back and forth to a condo they have in Mazatlan.
Silvia Sanchez said her husband is very romantic, but he usually "doesn't bend to society's will" by making a big deal out of Valentine's Day. Instead, he just shows his appreciation for her with little gifts at random times.
But they do have a very special Valentine's Day-related memory. Years ago, he bought her a pair of hand-painted wooden figurines that were about one-and-a-half inches tall. Eventually, she lost one of the figurines - about the same time her husband was in a terrible traffic accident. Luis Sanchez was in the hospital and, for a time, his survival was in doubt. She stayed at his bedside for two nights. He did survive, but he lost a leg.
She relates the lost figurine to his lost leg, and still having the remaining figurine to him surviving. And whenever she looks at that figurine, she is grateful.


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