When Desel met Sally: love at first sight

Monday, September 17, 2018

It must have been love at first sight, Desel Caboth said, when he first laid eyes on his wife, Sallie, in 1947.

The Alta couple, originally from Marcus and Aurelia, went to the same basketball game when the two towns played against each other. Desel had just finished serving in Korea during World War II.

"So they came to the game, and met a couple of girls," told Sallie of the story that Friday night. "It wasn't me."

The next evening, after he left the café she waitressed at in Marcus, Desel told his buddies that he was going to marry Sallie.

A year later, when Sallie and Desel were 18 and 22, respectively, they got married. Seventy years later, they're still together with two children, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

"He never did tell me if he kept his date or not, though," Sallie playfully begrudged. Both laughed as she said it, bring attention to the laugh lines on both of them that reflect the story of nearly three-quarters of a century of bliss, implicating one of the unspoken secrets to their marriage's success.

They started out poor and humble, just like all the young couples coming back from the war and settling in, Sallie said. But are you really poor when you're in love? "Financially poor," Sallie clarified, laughing at the question.

The key to their marriage was simple: love. "Even through the rough patches, we knew we loved each other and that's where it's all at," she said.

For five years, she said she didn't stop talking until she had "grown up" as a young adult. "I didn't stop until I had all my opinions out," she said, as having opinions in the house with her Southern mother would've been considered "sass."

"I never got to have an opinion when I was growing up," Sallie said. Now, Desel let's her talk until she's blue. "I do the talking in here," she explained as Desel just watched and listened to some of her observations of their marriage.

"Just respect," is how they stayed in love over the years, Desel said--something Sallie yearned for as she was raised in in a less than ideal environment. She didn't know what she wanted her marriage to be, but she did know what she didn't want it to be: abusive or disrespectful.

Desel has fulfilled both of those requirements and more for her. Love and respect is what they're most thankful for in each other. "That, and three meals on the table," Sallie jokingly interjected for Desel after he answered the question.

It also helps that they like each other. "You can be in love and not like someone," Sallie explained.

Their highlights over the years have been plentiful, but have mostly stemmed from the simple joys of life, like watching their children grow up and loving what they did for a living.

Sallie didn't start college at Buena Vista College until she was 32, teaching art for 20 years after graduating. But that was a complete accident.

She loved to paint, and went to register for an art class at the school after she had gotten tired of painting things out of National Geographic magazines.

"When I walked away, I had signed up for 16 credits, and I didn't know what a credit was," she recalled. "I was on the merry-go-round."

"I told my [students] I was 102 when I started teaching, because as far as they were concerned, I was," she finished.

Desel had a fruitful career in construction, spinning off several hobbies like flintknapping in the golden years of his retirement. When he got upset, he would go to his shop. "That worked very well," Sallie laughed.

They were always willing to work it out, "because there was love in spite of anger," she said, carrying them through difficult times.

"You just remember the wedding vows, what you promised to do," Desel chimed in.

Now, with the friends they married with having passed away, they joke that they're "at the top of the food chain."

But most of all, they have each other--something more valuable than being at the top of anything will ever be to them. This Friday, September 14, we commemorate 70 beautiful years in their relationship.

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