CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Forrest "Gael" Morris got his girl in much the same way that he landed his first job: He added a few crucial years onto his age.
Back then -- around 1953 -- there was a teen dance at a cute little joint all the kids called The Green Lizard, in Cinco, on Campbells Creek. Toward the end of the evening, Gael saw a pretty girl getting ready to leave -- neither one of them can remember dancing or even talking together that evening, but there it was, opportunity knocking. And with that, 14-year-old Gael quickly offered to walk Doris Mullins home.
He either didn't know or didn't care that she was a "slightly older woman," but Doris was suspicious, and not about to be a laughingstock among her friends.
"I said, 'Are you 16?' And he said 'Yes,' and so I said, 'OK,'" she remembered. It was a pretty good hike back to her sister's house, where she was staying, and by the time they got there, she was thinking he was pretty cute and awfully nice -- but she was no pushover.
"I think he tried to kiss me, and I said, 'I don't kiss on the first date!'" she said, still apparently a bit horrified -- but flattered.
Afterward, when she found out his real age, "It was too late," Gael said, laughing.
Born in Otsego, Wyoming County, Doris lived in East Bank at the time, so she and Gael wrote letters back and forth for a while, and got together whenever she was in town visiting her sister. But the following year he joined the U.S. Army, and reported his age as 18.
"When I got out two years later, I was only 17," he said. "I wasn't old enough to get in by the time I got out!"
Somewhere along the way, they broke up for a time -- there was another girl, and Doris had "written him off" when "all of a sudden he showed back up." And the rest, as they say, is history.
They both enjoyed eating out -- back then they paid 15 cents for a hamburger. They both came from poor families, and shared common values like not drinking or smoking. She liked him a lot -- she also liked his big, affectionate family. And the feeling was mutual.
Pretty soon there was an engagement, and then a wedding on Feb. 1, 1958. She was 19, he was 18 -- really 18 -- by then. They were in love, and no one thought they were too young at the time.
Looking back, they agree, they were practically babies.
"I think we could've gotten on more with our education, but we weren't thinking of that then," Gael said. He later got a college degree through the GI Bill, and despite good jobs that she enjoyed, Doris eventually returned to school for her own degree when she was 40, because "I just felt like I needed it."
But things weren't always easy. There were financial struggles from the beginning, and even more when their first son was born a year later. There were also the pressures of being parents when they weren't quite finished growing up themselves.
"I was a young mother, and that's a lot to take on," Doris said.