Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 8, 2014

Life built on love

Fosters had little money, but they had everything in each other

By Kelly Lafferty
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Jack Foster was riding in the backseat of his friend’s car as they came to a stoplight in downtown Kokomo when he saw the girl of his dreams cross the street at the corner of Union and Sycamore.

“Man, look at that girl,” Jack remembers saying to his two buddies.

“Do you know her?” they asked him.

“No, I’ve never seen her before, but I’m gonna marry her,” Jack replied. “They laughed.”

He said something inside told him that they were were destined to be together, but he thought he would never see her again.

About a month later, destiny brought them together again. This time it was at a restaurant in the basement of the YMCA, called the Y Café.

“Once I saw her I knew that burning desire was right there,” Jack said. “I probably was lit up like a light bulb if I could’ve seen myself.”

Jack knew he had to meet this mystery girl, so his friend introduced him to her. Her name was Beverly Barnett, and she told Jack that she and her friends would be going to dance at the Canteen later that week, and he could find them there.

“I thought he was good looking,” Beverly said. “He was tall, handsome, built really well, and had curly black hair. He was always making jokes and making everybody laugh all the time.”

Eighteen-year-old Jack met up with 14-year-old Beverly at the Canteen a few days later and took her home. That was their first date. Jack was in love immediately. He wanted to see her again, but he wasn’t sure what the future had in store for them.

“The thing I thought about was that we might get separated,” he said. “I made it to first base, but I didn’t know if I’d ever make it to second or third. I didn’t know what would happen with the war. I thought I could get drafted at any time.”

It was 1953, right in the midst of the Korean War, but Jack had nothing to worry about. He never got drafted.

The pair dated for three months. They’d go to movies, eat at Ray’s Drive-In, and visit friends, but Beverly began to have second thoughts about getting too involved with a guy.

“I thought I was too young to be serious,” she said. “I had never dated anyone. He was the only one I ever dated. I thought I needed to date around. I was only 14.”

She gave back an onyx ring Jack had given her and broke up with him. Jack was devastated.

“All kinds of things go through your mind when you lose the person you love,” Jack said. “She didn’t feel the same way about me that I felt about her. I guess you could call me head over heels.”

During the four or five months they were broken up, Jack started dating another girl.

“I guess I thought I was on the rebound,” he said. “I never thought I’d be with her [Beverly] again. It broke my heart. I thought this was gonna be forever. So, I started grasping at straws to fill that gap in my life.”

He got engaged to the new girl he was seeing, and in retrospect, he doesn’t know why he did that.

“She was everything I didn’t want to have in my life,” Jack said of the new girl. “I should’ve stopped it before it went that far, but Beverly didn’t give me any indication that she wanted to get together again.”

When his fiancée went off to college, Jack saw Beverly at the Canteen, and they started seeing each other again, but he didn’t tell her he was engaged. He was afraid he would lose her again if he told her.

“It was like a big trap I got myself into and I could barely get myself out,” Jack said.

Beverly found out the news from one of Jack’s friends after a couple months, and she was not very happy. She didn’t even believe it at first. Jack knew he had to put an end to things with the other girl.

“I always regretted that I didn’t tell Beverly about it,” he said.

He ended his engagement, and soon he and Beverly were seeing each other regularly again. Jack’s feelings for Beverly had been instantaneous, but Beverly still needed to grow more into the relationship with him.

“When I saw her, there was a fire inside me,” Jack said. “When she saw me, it was more of a smoldering coal.”

Beverly’s original plan to date other guys while she and Jack were separated had fallen through. None of the boys in high school were very appealing to her, at least not as appealing as Jack.

“He was all the things I wanted in a man,” Beverly said of Jack.

They spent almost every day together, to the point where Beverly would fall asleep at school, and Jack once fell asleep at the wheel and hit a mailbox. They decided it was time to get married if they ever wanted to get any rest.

“We found out we really loved each other,” Beverly said. “I was so young. I didn’t know what love was, but we liked being together. That’s what I was looking for, was love.”

They had discussed their future and wanted the same things. They wanted children, and to be strong in their faith.

The two were married at Main Street Christian Church on June 5, 1954, when Jack was almost 20 and Beverly was a few weeks shy of 16.

Beverly finished her sophomore year of high school and never went back. She said she didn’t like school too much anyway.

Newlywed life was an adjustment for her, though. They lived in a trailer for the first couple years, and since Beverly didn’t have her driver’s license, she was stuck at home all the time while Jack worked.

“He was gone all the time,” she said. “He would be working. I couldn’t drive. I didn’t have a telephone. I didn’t have a television. I didn’t like being by myself. I wasn’t used to that and I was lonely.”

They had some financial worries at first, too. When they got married, Jack had $65 in his pocket and that was it.

“We didn’t have anything, but we really had everything because we had each other,” Jack said. “You can’t build a relationship on money. You have to build it on love. It’s about knowing the other person’s feelings and understanding them. If you can’t master that, then don’t get married.”

Life got a lot better for Beverly once she got her license, and once they started having kids. She wasn’t lonely anymore. Their financial worries evaporated too with Jack’s job at Public Service Indiana, a power company, where he worked for 42 years.

“There are always some bumps in the road, but we would always talk it out,” Jack said.

Fifty-six years ago, they moved into their current house, where all five of their children were raised, and life and love has only gotten sweeter for the Fosters.

“I thought she was it,” Jack said. “That’s never left me. Whenever I see her, something clicks. That’s never worn out. It’s stronger now than it was when I was younger. Our love has intensified as we’ve gotten older. By getting older, you know you need somebody. It’s like a feeling of security.”

Jack and Beverly just celebrated 60 years of marriage, and they say it’s gone by fast, but it’s been really good growing older together and experiencing life.

“To me, she hasn’t changed,” Jack said. “Yeah she has gray hair, but you don’t really notice that. She’s a caring person. She always has been. If something happened to her before me, I don’t know how I’d handle it. She’s my right arm.”

The Fosters said that communication, forgiveness and their faith have played a big part in the success of their six-decade-long marriage.

“Forgiving each other is the main thing,” Beverly said. “You can’t just keep living mad at each other all the time. We all make mistakes. Neither one of us believes in divorce. When we got married, we knew we were gonna be together forever.”

Jack agreed. He would encourage any newlyweds who needed guidance to listen to advice from couples who are older than them.

“Pay attention to people who have been around for a while,” he said. “They have wisdom. They’ve been through the mill, they’ve faced it all, and they’ve made it. The whole base of all of it is L-O-V-E.”