COLUMBIA, S.C. — Bootsie Hall doesn't remember when she broke up with her husband, Beverly.
He, however, remembers every detail.
"That was very traumatic," he said, "right there on the porch in the swing."
It was the late 1950s, and the Halls were ninth-graders at Rocky Mount Senior High School in North Carolina.
Bootsie was starting to get calls for dates from other boys, and she was ready to move on. Then for 47 years after the break up, the Halls had nothing to do with each other. Their lives, though, followed remarkably similar paths.
And last year, they were brought back together at a class reunion.
"We were sweethearts in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades," Bootsie said from their Chapin home overlooking Lake Murray, where they moved recently after marrying in July. "He was my first love."
"Your first kiss," Beverly added. "And I'll be your last one, too."
Down the coast
When the Halls graduated from high school in 1960, they were three years past that fateful break up. Each went on to marry other people — and both marriages ended in divorce after more than a decade. They both also remarried spouses who later would lose battles with cancer, leaving them widowed — and each thinking dating, much less marriage, was out of the question.
In early 2005, a former classmate started a blog in an attempt to plan their 45th high school reunion. Somebody wrote that Beverly should bring his trumpet and play "Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)" — the song he and his five-piece combo used to play at high school dances and events around town.
But he had long since given up the trumpet and quickly responded on the message board that he didn't play anymore. Bootsie, remembering all the nights Beverly played the song for her over the phone while she swooned in her bedroom, responded. "I wrote back and told him I was sorry to hear that," she said.
They didn't write again for several months, while Beverly dealt with the death of his wife, Susie, in March 2005. When the reunion rolled around in the fall, Beverly wrote in the blog that he couldn't make it because of an out-of-town business meeting. Bootsie wrote back to say she had been looking forward to seeing him.
They continued with "polite conversation" — until Bootsie mentioned she was taking her grown daughter, Sharon, shopping in Myrtle Beach one weekend. Beverly asked if he could meet up with them for lunch.
When Bootsie stepped out of her vehicle outside the Carolina Opry, Beverly said, "I had to hold onto the car because my knees got weak.
"We were right back in ninth grade," Bootsie said.
"It was like magic," Beverly said. "I mean, it just clicked."
They went to dinner and danced and stayed up half the night catching up. The two began talking on the phone for hours each night, just like the giddy teenagers they were back in high school, and meeting in Myrtle Beach, halfway between their homes, on weekends.
During their third date, a month into their courtship, Beverly bought Bootsie a ring.
"He didn't call it an engagement ring," she said. "It was a past, present and future ring."
As she was driving home, she called her daughter to tell her about the ring. Her daughter asked if they were getting married.
"I said, 'I don't know, but I'll find out,'" Bootsie said.
When she called Beverly, who was traveling the opposite direction on U.S. Highway 17, he didn't know, either. "I think you said, 'Well, will you marry me?'"
"She said, 'Yes,'" Beverly said. "And I said, 'Well, I guess we're officially engaged.'"
New lives, new home
At 64, the Halls are settling into their new lives together in a new place. Lake Murray provided the best of both worlds. They found a place on the water that was much less expensive than a house on the coast.
"We've had a lot of fun," Beverly said. "We enjoy talking about the past ... It's also been just as much fun learning about each other now because we're two different people."
They work in the yard together and fix up things around their new house. "He's a good honey-doer," Bootsie said, flashing Beverly a smile. And they go to Gamecock football games, Beverly's passion and something Bootsie never thought she would do.
But most of all, they like listening to a recording from their wedding of "Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)" as the lyrics echo throughout their new home:
"The story goes that once a cherry tree
Beside an apple tree did grow
And there a boy once met his bride to be
Long, long ago."
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.