A local couple shares their secret for a long-lasting relationship.
By Ryan O’Quinn/Special to The Malibu Times
In this day and age true, lasting love seems to be something reserved for the movies. For one couple, love is alive and well in Malibu and has been for more than five decades.
Harold and Dorothy Blair moved to this rural beach community in 1962 and still live in the same Point Dume home where they reared four children. They say they still love all that Malibu has to offer, despite the influx of people and buildings that have sprung up around them in the last 40 years.
The Blairs met in 1947 in Flint, Mich. where Harold was a mechanical engineering student at the General Motors Institute and Dorothy was a librarian. Harold needed a book on aluminum, Dorothy’s brother was a metallurgical engineer and the rest is history.
There is actually more romance to the story than that and Harold said he was the one to make the first move.
“She caught my eye,” Harold said. “She had a book I wanted and after I saw her I decided to ask her out for a date.”
Dorothy checked out Harold’s appearance as well and agreed to the first outing, which was a dinner at Flint’s finest hotel restaurant.
“He was very well-dressed,” Dorothy said. “He was very nice and seemed to be a very caring type of person.”
In Dorothy’s own words, absence made the heart grow fonder as Harold would go to school for eight weeks in Michigan followed by eight weeks of factory work in a different state. After courting for more than a year, they decided to get engaged in November 1948.
Since metal brought them together in the first place, it seemed only fitting that such a choice be made for an engagement ring as the symbol that bound their relationship.
Dorothy told Harold she did not want a traditional diamond ring and the romantic husband-to-be responded in kind.
Harold’s uncle had given him a Scottish seal that was used to seal letters and the token had become a family heirloom. The uncle had been given the seal for good luck in World War I and passed it on to Harold for good luck during his stint in the United States Air Force during World War II. Harold says the only time he was injured in service was when he was not carrying the seal.
Harold had the seal set in a ring and when it came time to propose marriage, he chose the right words to melt Dorothy’s heart.
“I told her, ‘This is my good luck. If I marry you I won’t need it any more,'” Harold said.
Dorothy was smitten and the couple married in May 1949. They were both 26 years old.
Harold’s job took them around the country from Detroit to Indianapolis to Chicago and eventually to Southern California.
“We loved open spaces and that’s how we found Malibu,” Dorothy said. “We came here with four small children in 1962.”
The Blairs said there were about 20 homes on Point Dume at that time and the whole area was relatively undeveloped.
“Point Dume was rustic and rural and it was just a gorgeous place to bring up kids,” Dorothy said. “We had a beautiful ocean view, but since then there are mansions and trees. There was no shopping center when we came here. It was a homey place. When people moved here you baked a cake and took it to your neighbor.”
Harold said before retirement he had a long commute to Culver City for work but it was always worth it to come home to the beach.
“Some things have changed,” Harold said. “I remember there was bread and milk delivery in Malibu.” “And an ice cream truck in the summer,” Dorothy added.
The couple said part of their longevity is credited to the family having fun together when the children were growing up. Many weekends included car trips in the family station wagon and some destinations were Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Las Vegas and all around Southern California.
Harold was somewhat of an inventor as well and used his engineering background to make seat belts for the family road trips even before it was mandatory. He used mattress pads, netting and homemade harnesses with belts to make sure the children were safe.
“Seat belts were used in airplanes in those days,” Harold said. “It made sense to me to use them in automobiles.”
The Blairs were also actively involved in scouting and were members of the now defunct Point Dume Yacht Club and took sailing trips that left from Oxnard. They were also members on another group known as “The Grasshoppers,” which was a collection of neighbors who gathered for potluck dinners once a month.
Even though some of those organizations are now long gone and their children have moved on and have children of their own, the Blairs still stay busy with the local Senior Center in Malibu.
“It’s great to get out and socialize,” Dorothy said. “Not just because we are old, but because we actually have things in common with other people.”
Dorothy attends art, drama, poetry and writing classes at the Senior Center, and Harold takes art and drama classes as well.
“There must be 20 people in my drama group,” Harold said. “You get a chance to try anything you want. I’m recovering from Parkinson’s disease and being able to get out and mix with people is a big part of [my life].”
The couple is in their 56th year of marriage and says they are always willing to share the secret of their success: “You have to have respect for the other person and value them as a person,” Harold said. “Children are a big part of it, too. We both taught Sunday school and raised the children in the church.”
Dorothy said perseverance was also an important ingredient in the recipe for a successful marriage. The couple, who were charter members of Malibu United Methodist Church, still attends regularly at a congregation in Westlake Village. They will spend this Valentine’s Day like they have for many years; hand in hand on the shore in Malibu.