On Saturday, 51 Valentine Day weekends ago, a young Wyoming man (boy) who was serving as an enlisted Paratrooper in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., and his sergeant, obtained passes to travel to Nashville, Tenn. While touring the city, they stopped at the local YWCA, which was advertising a St. Valentine’s Dance. Espying a pretty Southern Belle, the Paratrooper asked for a dance, but was rebuffed, in part because the girl did not like rough and tumble Paratroopers, and besides she was dating an Air Force Officer; a gentleman who was not present. Trying a different approach, and having been formally introduced by his sergeant, he asked again, and was rewarded with the acceptance. It was the Tennessee Waltz, and the couple has been dancing the Tennessee Waltz together ever since.

That summer, as the Wyoming boy turned 21, he sold his Ruger Blackhawk revolver to a fellow Paratrooper, to raise money for the down payment on a ring set, and asked the Southern Belle’s father for permission to marry his daughter. The ring set was paid off and presented to her on her 21st birthday, Sept. 1, 1962. On Dec. 29, 1962, Philip Nelson Nash and Peggy Joyce Myatt were united in marriage at the Southern Baptist Church in West Nashville, a couple of blocks from the girl’s home, with brother Shannon presiding. Phil’s brother traveled from College in Washington State to be the best man, and his mother traveled from Casper, Wyo., by train alone, because his father could not get time off work. His sergeant sang at the wedding. Phil laughs that Peggy’s parents, plus a number of her hillbilly relatives he had never met, but who all had promised not to spike the punch with their favorite “shine,” filled up the church. Peggy’s best friend was her Maid of Honor.

Phil says he distinctly remembers the terms “love honor and obey,” but Peggy steadfastly asserts that she had that last word stricken (brother Shannon was her Pastor), and that the vow was to “Love, Honor and Cherish,” because she had her own mind; but if the term was included, it applied to the Groom, not the Bride! Phil recalls that it didn’t matter, because he was making payments on a used Volkswagen “Bug” and the re-capped tires, while Peggy was rich — she had a little over $200 in the bank and no debts. Their first Christmas tree had colored construction paper rings pasted together to form the ornaments, to brighten their first basement apartment, in Clarksville, Tenn., which they moved into the evening of the 29th.

On Christmas 2012, their son Weston and his fiancee, Brandi, invited them to Anchorage to celebrate Christmas, but to their surprise, Weston had brought his sister, Sandy, her husband Jay, and the only grandchild, Ruby Lee, (age 9 two days before this Valentine’s Day), up from their home in Maine, to help celebrate the 50 years of marriage. With 38 years in Alaska, and both children being raised here and their only grandchild born here, the couple affirms that it has been a grand place to live. They have no intent or desire to leave.


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