By Kelly Lafferty
---- — When Charles “Charlie” Pierson was home in Kokomo on leave from the service he heard there was a party at Patricia “Pat” Clark’s house, and according to Charlie, for him it was love at first sight. Pat has a different memory of the day. She threw the party at her house because her mom was out of town, and since there were so many people showing up who weren’t invited, she doesn’t particularly remember Charlie even being there. Charlie and Pat previously knew of each other through Kokomo High School, but not very well. Charlie was a few years older than Pat, and was friends with her older brother. He never really noticed her until her party, where he said she was very nice and attractive. “She kinda struck me the first time I saw her,” he said. He started hitchhiking back to Kokomo on the weekends from where he was stationed in Chicago, and he asked Pat out on several dates, where they would walk to movie theaters, since neither of them had a car. After he was discharged in 1947, he started working at Globe American in Kokomo and helped Pat get a job there too, before he went to work at Sears, where he worked for 37 years. He taught her how to swing dance, which they say they both say they really liked doing.
“I enjoyed dancing with her,” he said. “She’s a good dancer.”
They would travel to Grissom and Ideal Beach to dance to big bands like Les Brown and Louis Armstrong.
“We had a lot of good times together,” Pat said. The couple never really exclusively dated just one another. They kept their relationship very casual, even though they didn’t date other people very much. “I wasn’t in a hurry to get married,” Pat said. “I was just having fun.” Charlie had different ideas. After awhile he thought it was time to confirm their relationship with an engagement ring. “I just walked by the jewelry store and saw the ring in the window,” Charlie said. “I thought ‘Well, I can’t afford it, but I’m gonna buy it.’” Charlie’s mother had recently passed away and he wanted a better home than the place he had been sharing with two other guys. He offered the ring to Pat, and she accepted, but part of her was unsure about getting married. “I was so young,” Pat said. “I didn’t date in high school. I guess I wasn’t really ready to settle down like he was.” Charlie and Pat were engaged about a year before they tied the knot. “Somebody told me that the reason I got the ring is so no one would ask me,” Pat said. “I wasn’t having anyone knocking down the door to date me though.” They were married on July 3, 1949 at Grace United Methodist Church when Pat was 20 and Charlie was 22. After borrowing a car from Pat’s brother-in-law, they went on a honeymoon to Cincinnati. Being a newlywed was not always easy for Pat. “When you get married, you don’t realize all you have to do,” she said. “It was a big adjustment. Cooking, cleaning, going to the grocery store; I didn’t do that at home. I was still a kid to tell you the truth.” She missed the freedom she had when she was single. “It was hard staying home all the time,” Pat said. “I didn’t have a car to go out anywhere.” Starting out, finances were a huge issue for the couple. “We didn’t have much money,” Charlie said. “We had to struggle to get along.” The Piersons say even though the beginning was rough, they’ve had a lot of good times together when they were married.
“If you’re gonna be married for a long time, have a lot of fun before you get married,” she said. “Even though we had a lot of fun after we were married.” Charlie and Pat went on vacations to Florida a lot during their marriage, and would dance at the Elks Club on the weekends in Kokomo. They also have two daughters. One who lives in Chapel Hill N.C., and the other in Lexington, Ky. They agree their marriage wasn’t always perfect, but they’re thankful it has lasted so long. Over the past 64 years, the Piersons have learned a lot about being married. “Try to learn to have patience, put up with each other, and make each other happy,” Charlie said. “Sixty-four years, you gotta have a lot of patience.” Pat has shown her patience recently when she has had to help Charlie, since he has a hard time walking. “She’s a good nurse,” he said of Pat. “She takes good care of me. I don’t know what I’d do without her.” He has had several knee replacements and broken bones, and Pat helps him get things and assists him places, like getting into the shower. “When you say ‘better or worse,’ it’s worser than you think sometimes,” Pat said. “I never thought I’d be bathing him.” Pat is relatively healthy, and they are both glad she has the ability to help him so much. “I laugh when I see older couples holding hands,” Pat said. “I wonder if they’re having a tender thought or if they’re holding each other up,” she laughed.