Life and Times: Cruising in love for 50 years
When Louis Harper arrived in London on May 18, 1961 at the age of 20, he was introduced to his wife's mother by an uncle. He lodged at her house and had her prepare meals for him, while his wife also lived at the house as a teenager.
Harper did not have marriage on his mind at the time, and he moved out of that house after living with the lady and her young, beautiful daughter, Regina, for 12 months.
"We became friends, and I would accompany her and her siblings to cinema, parties parks, etc. And we became known as siblings to many persons. Regina would tell me about any boy who showed interest in her, and I would tell her about any girl that I met," Harper recalled.
However, when his wife was 16, Harper said they started to show interest in each other. And just before her 18th birthday, he asked her to marry him, and she said yes with reservation, because Harper would have to ask her mother as well.
"Miss Lou (Regina's mother) said I would have to wait at least four years until she finishes her training. I was delighted when she said yes. However, we got engaged on her 18th birthday," he said.
He said Regina then went to St Georges Hospital Tooting in England to begin her training as a nurse, and he only saw her once per week because they lived 20 miles apart. That forced Harper to make many trips to the phone box almost every night to call the love of his life.
"We would break up and make up frequently. Then in January 1967 after a break-up that lasted almost one month, I asked her again to marry me and I was overjoyed when she said yes again," he told THE STAR.
Harper said they cut the four-year wait to two years, and announced that they were getting married on June 24, 1967. He shared that they wanted a small wedding, but things snowballed out of proportion with more than 300 invitations being sent to family members and friends.
He noted that after the wedding he and his new wife moved into a rented room until August of that year, when he along with his wife's parents and siblings moved into what should have been a jointly owned home. It was there that their first child was born.
The proud husband and father shared that one year later he and his wife moved into their own home at Wembley in London, where their son and last daughter were born.
ALWAYS A TEAM
"Wherever we went our children were always with us. We went boating on the Norfolk Broads, and in France we took Meditation Cruises. All five of us, all the way up into their 20s. We were always a team of five. We were always the only black faces on some of these trips," Harper said, adding that they have been on 29 cruises.
The couple marked their 50th wedding anniversary in June, and for their special occasion they renewed their vows, at the Saxthorpe Methodist Church along Constant Spring Road in St Andrew.
Following their renewal of vows the golden couple went to the Terra Nova Hotel for their reception with 60 specially invited guests. The Blue Glaze Mento Band with Boris Gardiner and Harper's niece, Wendy Dillon, backed by a sound called 'The Sound Of Success', provided entertainment for those in attendance.
The Harpers also hosted two home parties for family members both local and overseas. Their celebrations also included them staying at hotels, as well as having dinner at specially selected restaurants.
"Our journey was not the conventional one of boy meets girl, their eyes met across a crowded room and there was music. Ours was one of gradually getting to know you. Ours grew into love and respect for each other," Regina Harper said.