Since moving to Mountain Home, I have encountered a number of sweet and funny love stories. A lot of retired people move to Mountain Home from midwestern cities after visiting the area just once, and one of my favorite stories is about a man and woman who both happened to be visiting Mountain Home the same weekend. They met by chance, fell in love with each other and with the area, married and bought a house together in one weekend. The circumstances suited them, but many of the rest of us meet and date our significant other, hoping for the best and amused by strange mishaps. Either way, as these couples’ stories show, every day is a good day to be in love in Arkansas!
KEN & DIANE
In 1974, Ken and Diane were Harding University students who met through a mutual friend and began talking one day on a stroll to Patty Cobb. Their conversation wandered to the film Walking Tall and Ken asked Diane if she wanted to see it with him.
It was an unforgettable moment for Ken, who gets a distant look in his eyes as he says, “Her response, the exact words, gripped me: ‘sure, I don’t have anything better to do.’”
The next day they went to church together and Ken, who was just beginning a career as a minister, preached the sermon. Neither Ken nor Diane can remember what the sermon covered, but their second date was on a December Friday the Thirteenth. “We watched White Christmas together in the Heritage lobby, but the thing was, I had two finals on Saturday and I should have been studying,” Ken shares. Even without studying that evening, he aced his finals.
After Ken proposed during their spring break, they made a trip to Mountain Home, Diane’s hometown, to get their rings from Horton Jewelry. Now, almost 43 years of marriage later, Ken says Diane sometimes jokes, “I sure wish I’d had something better to do that night.”
They advise couples seeking an enduring relationship; to focus on positive qualities in each other. Several things Ken mentions appreciating in Diane are some of the treats she has thoughtfully baked him and how attentive she is to his mother, who turns 103 this month. Diane volunteers that she appreciates Ken for his thoughtful acts, such as helping with household chores, including making the bed every day. “I do that because Neale Pryor once said he made the bed every day as an act of love,” Ken explains, referring to a well-known Harding professor. Ken also enjoys playing the guitar and singing—and Diane enjoys listening to him.
RON & CHRISTY
Carsick and Lovesick
After growing up in Texas, Christy took a job in Mountain Home. She met Marshall, Arkansas native Ron through a mutual acquaintance and the two began dating. Christy was mesmerized by the lakes and rivers in the Twin Lakes area and thought she was adjusting well to Arkansas living. One day the couple took a drive down Highway 14 to visit Ron’s family. The winding roads quickly took a toll on flatlander Christy, and she became carsick. “It was the longest trip of my life,” Ron reveals with a grimace. “On every turn, I saw her face blanch.”
They stopped a number of times, and the 90-minute drive ultimately took three hours. Christy regrets she was not at her best meeting Ron’s family who, in turn, were very considerate of her. Returning home afterward, they took “the long way” around, driving north on 65 to Harrison and cutting across on 62 to Mountain Home so they would have a straighter drive. A year later, they married—this time, their families made the drive to see them. I asked Ron how they are now, twelve years after that ill-fated drive: “Christy does all the driving for us now. It’s great, except I have to change the brakes twice a year.”
ALISHA & MATT
Alisha and Matt connected through a Catholic dating site. She lived in Mountain Home while he lived in south Louisiana. Soon, he was bringing roses and visiting her family so they could spend time together. Matt ultimately took an EMT job at the hospital and moved to Mountain Home, where he became a part of Alisha’s family and church. The couple shares a strong devotion to Saint Thérèse and roses, already a romantic symbol, have additional significance as they are her sign.
Living in Arkansas affords ample opportunity to enjoy and explore outdoors, and Alisha credits herself for taking Matt hiking for his first time; they hiked to Whitaker Point. On a subsequent hike, Matt enlisted the help of Alisha’s sisters to set the stage to propose to her. When she reached the lookout, the stunning view was decorated with pictures, roses and scattered petals. The star of the show was the ring, which came from Carter’s Jewel Chest. Matt’s thoughtful proposal was a complete surprise to Alisha. She was overjoyed at being asked and thrilled to have been surprised, and both parties were delighted with her acceptance.
Alisha claims to like “everything” about Matt: “I like his faith. He’s got a really big heart, he’s really romantic, he treats me like a princess and he’s a hard worker. Just everything. I don’t want to be cliché and cheesy, but, yes. Everything. He’s everything that I need.”
Her sentiments are echoed by Matt, who says, “clichés are clichés for a reason, and that’s what I’m finding out.” He says Alisha is “cute, funny, bubbly, and has the same standards and morals. She’s happy, has a big heart and is good with kids. She’s kind and compassionate.”
I asked how he liked Arkansas, and he replied, “I like it just fine since she’s here.”
Banner photo credit: Olivia and Monica Ehlinger