Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008 | 2 a.m.
They met when she was 8. He was 10. They wouldn’t see each other again until she was 16. And that time, there was love in their eyes.
“Even then, he was such a gentleman,” says Thelma, who would become Mrs. Anderson two years later. Her dad was pleased that she was dating Walker Anderson, who would ride up to their house on a bicycle, yelling out her name as he pedaled up.
And Walker was equally smitten. “She was quiet, reserved, and liked sports. She was a beautiful young lady.”
Soon he was an Army anti-aircraft gunner at Fairchild Air Force Base outside Seattle during the Korean War. During a Christmas leave, they married. That was in 1951, and they’ve been married since. He spent 33 of the years in Chicago and Los Angeles as a U.S. Postal Service police officer.
They ran away from Southern California after a scary earthquake in 1992 and settled here.
Their four children fret over their parents’ safety. Old people can be targets. But Walker says he is always aware of his surroundings — it’s second nature — and capable of taking care of himself and his bride.
And so they’ve grown old together, sweetly in sync, having patiently and selflessly learned to adjust to their differences.
Walker is the first to rise in the morning, and Thelma joins him during “The Today Show.” At 10, it’s time for Wheaties, topped with strawberries, grapes or bananas. “This is when she’ll tell me that I kept her awake all night and that I’ve got to do something about that snoring.” (“It’s a deep, gurgling, vibrating snore,” Thelma says.)
Walker’s days are spent reading. It starts with the Bible in the morning. He’ll read encyclopedias, too, and even the dictionary. At 78, he still can’t learn enough. When he mows the lawn, Thelma tends her roses. And lately, they’ve been painting the inside of the house. “I’ve wanted to do this for two years,” Thelma says. “Walker procrastinates.”
Supper comes at 3: usually down to a local casino buffet for their daily outing, followed by grocery shopping on the way home. Evening is spent with books in front of the television. And for Walker, it’s bed by 9, his Thelma following when she thinks his snoring has quieted for a moment.
So how can we explain the long marriage? “You know,” says Walker, “that’s a good question. I think she loves me.”