The story begins on a Monday morning, about 60 years ago, when a boy named Charles Shaw walked into a sixth-grade classroom in Mobile, Ala., and sat down behind a pigtailed girl named Lois Lassiter.
Charles had moved from Illinois with his parents, Pentecostal ministers.
"I promise you I fell in love with him that day," Lois recalled with a smile, sitting in the couple’s Braselton home last week.
"I just remember he came in dressed like winter," she said.
Charles also noticed Lois right away, or more specifically, her pigtails.
"I started playing with those pigtails the day I sat down behind her," Charles said, laughing.
The next night, both of them showed up at the same church. "We’ve just been together ever since then," he said.
His mom drove them places in her Cadillac before they were old enough to drive.
"I’ve got something for you," Charles told Lois on Dec. 21, 1957, before giving her a ring and asking her to marry him. "Let’s go ask your mom and dad."
"I remember exactly what I had on," Lois said.
Less than two months later, on Feb. 14, 1958, Valentine’s Day, Charles and Lois were married by his father at Krafton Church of God in Mobile.
She was 18, he was 19.
"I believe God makes everybody a soulmate, and I found my soulmate very young," Lois said.
Making a life togetherCharles Shaw’s military service took the couple overseas to France. Afterward, they returned to Atlanta and lived in Chamblee for 30 years. They’ve been in Braselton for 12.
Along the way they had three daughters: Cyndi Pinion, now 49, lives in the same neighborhood as her parents; Wanda Perkins, 45, calls Loganville home; and Meredith Jones, 37, also lives in Braselton.
They have seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Their children put together an anniversary celebration last Saturday at Chicopee Baptist Church in Gainesville. Family and friends from near and far gathered to celebrate the couple and watch them renew their vows.
"Our children wanted to do that for us," Lois said. "They know that their mom and dad love each other."
"They’re childhood sweethearts," said Pinion, who works at Wathco Inc. with her mom. "You could make a movie."
On Friday, one day before the celebration, Charles said he was most looking forward to the renewal of vows "and remarrying the girl I married 50 years ago."
"It took pretty good that time."
Lois Shaw smiled at the folded cards in her hand. They’re from 1983, the Shaw’s 25th anniversary. The edges have softened through the years, and inside every inch is covered in blue and black ink. There are even pages inserted to hold what two sides of the card could not.
Words of love, Shaw explains, from years 26 to 49.
"I love you darling as much as I did 26 years ago" and "Twenty-six years and I love you more every day," they wrote each other in 1984.
This year, the Shaws will start writing in new cards. But those mementos aren’t the only ones.
"We have got every love letter and every school note we ever wrote," Lois said. She pulls out a brown leather duffel bag, filled with letters and paper yellowed with time. But there is nothing old about the feelings expressed inside.
"Sometimes when he’s traveling, I’ll get up in the bed with a hunk of those letters," she said.
stay the same
The Shaws don’t pretend they haven’t had their share of hard times.
A daughter, between the second and third, was stillborn.
"We’ve had lots of problems," Lois admits. "We lost a child; we’ve lost parents ... we just kept on loving each other."
It was tough getting started, she recalls.
"There will be problems, heartaches ... You stay together, work things out," she said. "And keep God first, always."
At age 67 and 68, they still enjoy the same things, like gospel music and traveling. They still get up early, and still kiss and say "good morning" and "good night."
They’ve both worked in the food industry. Charles retired for a few years, but went back to work for Crossmark Inc. His job requires some traveling, but they still talk every day, no matter what.
"I look for that phone call every morning," he said. "I don’t know what I’d do without her."
"If I haven’t called him by 8, he calls me," she said.
They both talk of getting started on the next 50 years.
"Oh, we have just begun," Lois said.
"I love her, and I’d do it all over again," Charles added. "And I say that honestly."