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Is it hard to find love in a tourist town, where people come and go, a place where retirees transplant themselves after raising families elsewhere?
But as these four couples reveal, love finds us wherever we are. True love started with a hernia. Tim Pond had an appointment in the summer of to see a surgeon in Little River about a hernia. Tim saw Wilma Fowler Pond behind the check-in counter. He felt a connection between them. But Tim came back for another appointment, and this one Wilma remembers.
More flirting ensued. He thought Wilma was beautiful, and he liked the way she carried herself. She had grown up on a tobacco farm in Green Sea, South Carolina—30 miles and a world away from the beach—and was intrigued by the well-dressed, well-traveled Connecticut transplant who had his own business. Tim did not give up. He began to stop by the office about once a week to say hi and bring lunch to Wilma. He liked that she was different than other women he had dated. She was shy and a little reserved. Still, she was cautious.
But her coworkers liked him, and she did, too.
Tim had no plans to get into a serious relationship. When he moved to the Grand Strand inhe was looking for a fresh start. He was 23, working in restaurants in New Haven, Connecticut, and partying a lot. Too much. He knew he needed a change.
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He had vacationed in Myrtle Beach with his family, and he was confident he could find work here. He also knew how easily he could fall into the same lifestyle funny which he wanted to escape. But this time the relocation trick was just the ticket—eventually. His parents moved to Myrtle Beach, too, and he and his father, a retired college professor, went into business together, building and then managing apartments in Myrtle Beach.
Tim also worked as a bartender. Wilma, meanwhile, dating found good work in the healthcare field after graduating from high school. She got married at 21, the same year Tim moved to Myrtle Beach. A few years later she gave birth to her daughter, Kristen. When sparks flew between Tim, the city boy, and Myrtle, the country girl, the answer seemed to be: maybe. Wilma decided to go. She was profiles. This would be the first time they had seen each other outside the safety zone of her office.
She bought new shoes. It was the turning point in their relationship. For Tim. Soon after that was their real first date, which they agree was at Broadway at the Beach. They went to a movie. They also squeezed into a photo booth and took a picture, which still hangs, 15 years later, on their refrigerator. After that Tim began wooing Wilma in earnest, sending her spectacular flower bouquets every week. But the course of true love never did run smooth.
After two years of dating, Wilma and Tim split up. Adjusting to life after divorce was difficult for Wilma and her daughter, and the tension created a rift.
There was no communication between the couple for a year. Finally, Wilma could not take it anymore. She mailed Tim a note. Tim called as soon as he received the note and asked to see her.
The relationship d full speed ahead—with one little hiccup: When Wilma told her parents about Tim and asked if they wanted to meet him, her father said absolutely not. He had no interest in meeting a non-Southerner.
Family bonds and love grew over time. Wilma thought a proposal was imminent. Tim had loftier plans. On their way to dinner one night, Tim said they had a stop to make. A helicopter awaited. Tim worried about getting the engagement ring past the metal detector without alerting Wilma, but she was focused only on her increasing anxiety. She had never before been in a helicopter.
They rose into the air at dusk.
It was beautiful. Tim proposed, and Wilma said yes. It was perfect. Upon landing, they returned to the hotel so Wilma could lie down for an hour before going back out to a celebratory dinner. After a honeymoon in Tahiti, they happily settled into married life. In they became foster parents to a month-old boy, Gavin, and adopted him a year later.
Their lives are busy, but they make sure to squeeze in date nights and vacations for just the two of them. Gary Wendt fell in love at first sight with Janice Montagano in in a Market Common restaurant after meeting online.
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After finding each other on the dating website OurTime. Janice had picked the restaurant, but a new overpass caused her to miss her turn. Thirty minutes late, just as Gary began to think about leaving, Janice ran in the front door of the restaurant. Gary fell in love at first sight with the redhead in the blue jeans.
A new romance was born. There was just one little hitch: Gary had recently moved to Murrells Inlet from Illinois, and he had to go back to tie up loose ends. He also had to smooth out the wrinkles that had cropped up in his divorce proceedings. Gary was gone six months. He and Janice, who had moved to North Myrtle Beach a few years earlier from New Jersey, sent text messages to each other and talked on the phone while he was gone. Gary remained smitten.
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But she had a great life, so she carried on with work, friends and family while Gary was absent. She had no expectations. But that changed when she learned he was returning to the Grand Strand. They fell into an easy, comfortable relationship. They were thrilled to have found each other after separately starting new lives at the beach.
Gary, born and raised in Milwaukee, got married at 21, raised three children and worked as a mortgage banker in Chicago. He enjoyed golf trips to the Myrtle Beach area, so it was not surprising when he moved here permanently after he retired. He played golf three or four times a week and met people that way, but he spent a lot of time by himself. He saw an ad for the dating website and ed up.
He went on a half-dozen dates, but there was no love connection. Janice was struck by his unusual profile picture. They exchanged phone s and had a couple of hour-long conversations before they met in person.
Janice was happy to find that Gary was different from the other men she had met through the website.