In 1936, a beautiful young graduate of the University of Washington School of Journalism was working as the society editor for the Yakima newspaper and living at the Yakima YWCA.
A Business & Professions Club dance was coming up. A girlfriend told her, “Hey, I can get you a date.” The date called and asked her to go to a roadhouse before the event, to see if she could dance. The evening of their first date, she walked down the staircase and could see his reflection in a mirror on the landing. He had coal-black hair and wore a white linen suit.
The matchmaking girlfriend had told the young man, “There’s a new girl in town who needs a date.” He had recently broken up with a girl. He showed up at the YWCA and caught sight of his date coming down the stairs. “Oh, God! She’s a really spiffy-looking girl!” he thought. “Just the right size. She’s not fat or puffy. And she has a beautiful head of blonde hair.”
In December 1998, the couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Their hair has grayed, but Ed and Dorothy Stotsenberg are as lean as ever.
Early on, he knew she was the girl for him. “When I wanted to go fishing at 4 o’clock in the morning, she would go along,” he says. “And she could dance, play the piano and sing. And she agreed to go to our church. And she didn’t have any mental quirks.”
She says, “It came upon me gradually. We always had a good time doing things together. He liked music. And his mother cooked pheasant like no one else in the world.”
He bought her an engagement ring. “It wasn’t much of a ring,” he says. “Oh! It was a nice ring,” she responds. One Saturday night, they were sitting on the davenport. He asked to see her hand. He tried the ring on, but it was too small. So next morning he awakened the jeweler to have it sized. She recalls singing in their church choir that morning and gazing at the ring.
They married in Yakima. She wanted to marry on a Monday night because Monday was “hellish” at the newspaper where she was working. He recalls that the church was full. “That was a good thing,” he says. “You have it in your mind that you’d better behave.”
They honeymooned at a mountain cabin. When they came home, she realized she hadn’t purchased sheets, with money her mother had given her for the purpose.
They lived in Yakima for two years, until he decided he wanted to attend college. She worked in publicity while he went to school. She recycled milk bottles for carfare to work.
On V-J Day, they filled out his application to Harvard Business School. She worked at Jordan Marsh in Boston until he graduated.
They drove to California in a 1936 Ford. They moved in with her parents. She found a job as an assistant editor. He began an accountancy practice, which lasted 55 years. She received a master’s in journalism from UCLA; he taught accountancy at USC.
They realized they were spending their weekends at the beach, so they rented a home on Carbon Beach. “It was fun living on the beach in those days,” she recalls. They knew their neighbors. “All the gals had professions,” she says.
Now they live with roadrunners, quail, bobcats and rattlesnakes, in their home on 44 acres off Encinal Canyon. They host parties. He brings out the telescope. She likes to cook.
Their advice to the about-to-marry: She says, “Know each other a little bit before you hop into bed.” He says, “Pick somebody who’s equal to you in brains, so your personality jibes.” “And finish college,” she adds. “There’s no substitute for education in a happy marriage.” He recommends, “Get married at about your own economic level. If you don’t have anything but prospects, you can grow up together and work together.”
What’s the trick to staying married? Soon after they wed, he explains, she inherited $30,000 from an old aunt. She put the money in their account. No, he told her, it’s your money. Soon she came home and told him she had bought a car for $20,000, with “her” money. Then she bought a fur coat, for $10,000, with “her” money. Then she sent $10,000 to her family, also “her” money. “And so on,” he says. Later on, she told him her money seemed to have grown. “Absolutely right,” he told her. That’s how to stay happily married, he says.
Her advice is, “To respect each other’000000000000000000000000000000000000000s profession and work and be interested.” He adds, “Read, read, read.”
What are they doing for Valentine’s Day? “Hell, I don’t even know when it is,” he says. Then he promises her dinner at BeauRivage. “You just kind of live with romance year in and year out,” he says. She smiles. “Every day is romance.”