Peter Headen and his wife, Jacqueline, met for the first time in 1958 at a roller-skating rink on the Indian Head naval base in Maryland.
They started dating soon after. But their courtship would continue for four decades, with lots of ups and downs along the way.
At StoryCorps they sat down to tell their love story.
Click here for the transcript.
Jacqueline Headen (JH): He just grabbed my hand, rolled me around and said, "I'm Peter Headen. Who are you?"
PH: And she says, "My name’s Jacqueline Le Fever." And I looked in those big green eyes, and I was a done deal.
JH: From there we started datin'.
PH: And in 1959, her father got transferred to Japan. So I decided, well, I'll go to Japan and get her. So, I went and joined the Marine Corps and said, "Well, I want to go to Japan." And the Marine Corps said, "Oh, you'll go to Japan--when we tell you you can go to Japan." And, I was home on leave and stopped by to see Jacqueline's mother. She said right away, "Jacque got married."
JH: I—I just got married for all the wrong reasons. And I was very unhappy.
PH: I carried a picture of Jacque in my pack for three years in Vietnam. When we'd have a hard day, I'd just pull the picture out and say, "I guess that's why I'm doing this." So I wrote her a letter. Told her how I felt.
JH: I don't know how the letter found me. It had all these forwards stamped all over the envelope. And, he said, "I love you. I've always loved you. I just have to get this off my chest, and I'm done."
PH: I did my tour, and I came back from Vietnam. I spent 24 hours at home. And I went into my mother about 4 o'clock in the morning and said, "I gotta go to North Carolina to see Jacque." And she kinda looked at me and she said, "I think you better leave that one alone, but I guess you gotta do what you have to do."
JH: And I sent him away.
JH: I came from a divorced family and didn't want my kids to have a broken home. And my husband was a very domineering, controlling person. If I left, he wouldn't let me have my children.
PH: She said, you know, "I'm not gonna see you anymore." That was September 25, 1968. And I didn't hear from you again until September 25th, 1998.
JH: I had tried to call him off and on over the years and I'd always call the operator and say, "Do you have a T.P. Headen?" And she'd say, "No." And, then, in '98, I had made up my mind: “I am just outta here. I'm so miserable, I'm so unhappy.” So, I say, no one ever loved me but Peter. I'm gonna go see if I can find him one more time. [Laughs] And the operator said, "I've got a T.P. Headen in White Plains." I said, "Oh my god, that's him." I said, "I have been trying to find this person for 30 years. It's the love of my life." [Laughs] She said, "You want me to dial the number for you?" I said, "Yeah, you can dial the number." She says, "Can I stay on the line?" I said, "I don't care what you do." [Laughs].
PH: And the phone rang. And she says, "You know who this is?" And I said, "Yeah, I know exactly who this is." She says, "I bet you're mad at me." I said, "No, matter of fact, I'm still in love with you." [JH laughs]. It's just sad the time we lost, but I got her back. So I won. You know? [JH laughs]. And she's just as beautiful as she was when she was 15.
Southern Maryland Library in Charlotte Hall, MD