Former classmates kindle a romance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 9, 2005

The two definitely make a cute couple.

She’s a petite, blue-eyed ash blonde with a sweet smile. He’s a tall, handsome fellow with a friendly grin and a disarming twinkle in his eye.

While she is a familiar face at the Wal-Mart Super Center in Greenville, he is known as &uot;the blueberry man&uot; of Butler County.

Meet Betty Smith and Edward Newton, sweethearts since last summer, and now, newlyweds looking forward to celebrating their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple.

They’ve known each other since high school, Georgiana High, to be exact – Class of 1953.

Betty, at 4 feet, ten inches, recalls being &uot;the shortest in the class&uot; while Edward, six foot, two and one-half inches, was one of the tall guys.

‘No sparks’

If you’re imagining a scenario with former high school sweethearts being reunited – think again.

&uot;We went to school together, but believe me, there were no sparks or anything like that back then – nothing. We were just classmates,&uot; Betty says, shaking her head.

&uot;She went her way and I went mine,&uot; agrees Edward.

After graduation, the Georgiana High students went on their &uot;separate ways&uot; to marriage and family, completely losing contact with one another.

&uot;The funny thing is, we were both living with our families on Three Notch Road in Mobile within three miles of one another for years, and never knew until last year,&uot; laughs Betty.

Betty raised a brood of six youngsters while Edward had a son and a daughter.

Eventually they both ended up back in their home county. Edward retired from his job with the U. S. Post Office in Mobile, went hunting for the farm of his dreams, and found it in South Butler County. He has his own thriving 400-plant &uot;u-pick-em&uot; blueberry farm near the Providence Community.

Betty, a widow for nearly thirteen years now, has been employed by the local Wal-Mart for almost fifteen years.

Love among the berries

It was one weekend in the summer of 2004, when Betty had the weekend off and her family members were all &uot;busy doing their own thing&uot;, that led to the former classmates meeting again.

&uot;I was sitting there at home last June, feeling bored, and I remember saying, ‘Lord, if you would just send someone my way, I sure would appreciate it.’ Next thing I knew, my friend Ruth called me and said she wanted to go pick some blueberries, and did I want to go with her? So we ended up going to Mr. Newton’s farm,&uot; explains Betty.

What a difference a few decades makes.

The diminutive Wal-Mart employee and the tall farmer – those two former classmates who had felt no sparks – certainly liked what they saw in each other that late June day in the blueberry patch.

&uot;This time, the sparks were a-flyin’,&uot; Betty recalls with a grin.

&uot;Oh, yes – and she got herself some bonus berries, too,&uot; Edward adds.

A courtship ensued – a very proper one, we might add.

&uot;Edward would come over and play dominoes – now, there was always someone else with us, I should add,&uot; says Betty.

&uot;Yes, she was properly chaperoned by one of her friends at all times,&uot; Edward agrees with a smile.

It was in September 2004, Labor Day weekend, to be exact, when Edward popped the question and placed the sparkling diamond ring on Betty’s finger.

Get me to the church on time

Last Saturday, on February 5, 2005, Betty and Edward became Mr. and Mrs. Newton in a ceremony at Southside Baptist Church in Greenville.

The couple wanted a full-fledged celebration with family, friends and co-workers, to honor their newfound love, in including an after-rehearsal dinner catered by Nanny’s and a reception catered by family members at the church following the ceremony.

&uot;I didn’t have a church wedding the first time around, and I wanted to do it up right this time,&uot; Betty explains. Naturally, she wouldn’t describe her dress in front of Edward prior to the ceremony (&uot;He’s just going to have to wait and be surprised&uot;), but now we can reveal some of the details given by the new bride.

&uot;I think the dress is beautiful – it’s long sleeved with lots of beads and pearls, in a fitted princess style with a long train and a scoop neck. I’m wearing a pearl necklace and pearl clip-on ear bobs with it. It’s white – I figure when you’ve been a widow as long as I have, it ought to be OK to wear white.&uot;

And yes, a honeymoon trip was also part of the couple’s plans. &uot;I don’t know exactly what Edward has planned, I’m leaving that up to him – but he says we’re going somewhere warm. And I have two whole weeks of vacation from Wal-Mart,&uot; Betty said in the week before the wedding.

Dividing their time

Once the couple returns from their trip, they plan to settle in at Betty’s home on Highway 10 near Damascus Baptist Church. Once blueberry season approaches again, they will move south to Edward’s farm – where their romance first began.

&uot;We’ll be enjoying both places for the time being. I’ll be retiring from Wal-Mart in a few months and we’ll have even more time together,&uot; says Betty with an adoring sideways glance at her best beau.

The &uot;Blueberry Man&uot; gives her an affectionate squeeze.

They definitely make a very cute couple.