Evelyn Pinder says she'll never forget the day she met the love of her life.
She was baby-sitting for his sister's children in East Baltimore. William Pinder was from the Eastern Shore but was spending a lot of time boxing at Frankie Rice's gym on Gay Street. They walked together in the days and weeks that followed, through Patterson Park and, it seemed, "all over the city."
On Thanksgiving night in 1933, they were married.
The secret of a relationship that lasts seven decades, through the births of four children and 15 grandchildren?
According to Evelyn Pinder, it's simple: "I always picked the cars and bought the houses."
And yesterday, William and Evelyn Pinder decided to say "I do" for a third time.
"It's becoming a bit of a habit," said Evelyn Pinder, 90.
At a Rosedale nursing home yesterday, the Pinders were one of four couples who chose to renew their vows. William Pinder, a 90-year-old retired utility line repairman who suffers from a number of ailments, has been a resident of the Franklin Woods nursing home for two years.
"When we get married, we promise to love in sickness and in health. These couples are living that promise," said Susan Landesman, recreation director at Franklin Woods. "They are tremendously devoted. It's not always about the good times in a marriage."
Renewing vows is a way to celebrate the dedication of the spouses who are visiting the nursing home, the ones talking with doctors and nurses constantly, the ones who are trying to care for a spouse whose health is failing faster, Landesman said. "It's very difficult," she said.
It's also inspiring, said Landesman and relatives of the couples.
Landesman and other staff members watch as John Grover comes to visit his wife, Esther, every day to make sure she's eating. And yesterday, they watched as he walked next to his bride, who was in a wheelchair. He held her hand as a priest blessed their 64-year marriage.
Barbara and Vaughn Sweitzer have also been married six decades.
Barbara Sweitzer said they met one May. By that July, they were engaged. A month later, they were on the doorstep of a priest's house, asking to be married.
"And to think, everyone bet it wouldn't last," said Barbara Sweitzer, 78, who wore a maroon pantsuit and carried a bouquet of silk wildflowers for her third "wedding" to her husband, an 82-year-old retired appliance repairman.
Twenty-five years after they eloped, the couple had a wedding in a chapel in the city, followed by a cruise to Jamaica. But, she said, the service at Franklin Woods, where her husband has lived for four years, was the most meaningful.
They've been together through the births of five children and the death of one, through his stroke and living apart since he came to the center for full-time nursing care.
"They've taken such good care of him here," she said, surrounded by two dozen relatives.
Her brother and his wife, Lee and Christine Hopkins, decided to join them and renew their vows, too. They were married 25 years ago on Valentine's Day.
"It was humbling to stand up there with the long-marrieds," said Christine Hopkins. "It's just very touching."
Debbie Meddings, one of the Pinders' grandchildren, was also moved by the Valentine's Day ceremony.
"People don't stay married for 72 years too often," said Meddings. "They're sweet people. They think of each other first."