One of the most fun things to do as a couple is reminisce about your first date — the event that changed everything — remembering all those jitters, butterflies, and awkward moments, which were horrifying at the time but so hilarious now.
But how much fun would it be to take that a step further and completely recreate your very first date?
Two weeks ago, one sweet couple did just that, and the viral photos of them reliving that date are warming the hearts of many.
Elmer and Fran Armstrong, of Maryland Heights, Missouri, met in 1962 outside a local Steak ‘n’ Shake near St. Louis, Missouri.
Elmer admits to Babble that it wasn’t exactly love at first sight (at least not on Fran’s end). Elmer was parked in the Steak ‘n’ Shake lot with one of his buddies on a drizzling night when he noticed two girls in a nearby car with windshield wipers squeaking like crazy.
“I rolled the window down and hollered at them about their windshield wipers,” he shares, “and they sort of ignored me.”
A while later though, Elmer saw an acquaintance of his hop into the backseat of their car, and he jumped at the opportunity to use this mutual connection to get to know the women. That acquaintance eventually gave Elmer the girls’ phone numbers — and not only did he get a do-over with them, but one woman ended up becoming the love of his life, the mother of his children, and his wife of 55 years. Amazingly, her friend (the other girl in the car) and her now-husband are the Armstrongs’ best friends to this very day.
Elmer and Fran tied the knot on June 22, 1963, and more than five decades later, they are still “madly in love,” says the couple’s 24-year-old granddaughter, photographer Courtney Stepp of CMS Photography LLC.
This June will mark the Armstrongs’ 55th wedding anniversary, and in honor of the occasion, Stepp came up with the idea to help her beloved grandparents have a unique celebration a few months early. She proposed that they take a trip down memory lane and have dinner at Steak ‘n’ Shake, just like the serendipitous one they had all those years ago. Elmer and Fran Armstrong were surprised, but intrigued by the idea.
“I thought, ‘What the heck? We might as well do it,'” says Elmer. “Who knows how many years I’m gonna be around?”
Stepp employed the help of her friend, Katie, of Rouge Events and Design, to make flowers for the occasion, since her grandmother adores them. When the “date night” arrived, Stepp accompanied her grandparents to a local Steak ‘n’ Shake (not the same one, as the original is now closed, explains Elmer), to document the event.
During the dinner and photo shoot, Elmer says the couple enjoyed the same meal they had that first evening, except this time around they shared it: a cheeseburger and strawberry shake. He says it was a nice night, unlike any he’s had before.
“By the time we got done,” he says, “there were 10 or 12 other couples there, people were watching, and a few of them were asking what was going on.”
Stepp was happy to explain what the happy couple was up to. She says the collection of photos reflect the delightfulness of the dinner. “It really shows them in their element and that’s with each other.”
Elmer says that he and his wife don’t know quite what to make of how popular their photo shoot has become. Elmer uses Facebook to keep in touch with his classmates from high school and his old coworkers, but he much prefers a good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation over interacting on the Internet or through text message.
The father of two and grandfather of four says that he and his wife, Fran, have had “a good life.” They’ve enjoyed traveling in the U.S. and abroad, and even lived in Italy for six months for his work.
If there’s one thing he’s learned about marriage in the last 55 years, it’s that holding grudges isn’t worth it.
“Tomorrow’s another day and hopefully it’ll be a better day,” he says.
Stepp shares that her grandparents have taught her a lot about love.
“They’ve taught me to always fight for marriage, to forgive one another, and to always be there for your spouse,” she says.
It’s a message that the Armstrongs hope people take away from their special photos.
And maybe their heartwarming story will inspire you and your spouse to choose a sentimental spot for your next anniversary.