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Young hearts

They fell in love in '55, but life got in the way for a while

Bernie and Gloria Young fell in love at a teen party in the summer of '55.

The Medford couple are frozen in time in a Valentine's Day photo on the society page of their hometown paper, gazing fondly at one another under chalked initials on a tree.

Summer trips to the lake prompted Bernie to etch their initials in even more permanent locations. A massive granite boulder proclaimed their love for all seasons.

They even wore matching love tokens, stainless steel necklaces bearing their names.

I wore mine outside my blouse with Bernie's name showing, says Gloria. He wore his inside his shirt.

The love in their hearts would prove far more enduring than the hearts they left all over town, however.

Like with most teen couples, life intervened. Bernie went away to college. He returned to find Gloria engaged to another.

Both married others, had children and eventually divorced. Both ended up in the real estate business and were reunited at a Realtors meeting in Eugene in 1982. Together at last, they married in May 1984.

To celebrate their lifelong love, the newlyweds decided to take a trip down memory lane back in their hometown of Roseburg.

Thinking the site of the famous Valentine's Day photo would be a good starting point for their home tour, the two were stunned to see their landmark was nothing more than mulch.

The tree was gone, says Bernie. It had just rotted away.

Next stop was a trip to the lake, where Bernie had etched their initials in the side of the massive boulder.

Bernie says he believed the size of the granite boulder would ensure a lifelong monument. But wind and water had taken its toll.

The whole side of the boulder had just crumbled away and slid down into the canyon, Bernie says.

Finally, the two went in search of Bernie's stainless steel necklace.

Before he left for college, Bernie had climbed to the top of one of the steel girders on the town bridge. He says he carefully hid the love token on the girder's back side.

As they drove to the old bridge, another surprise was in store for the Youngs.

I just knew it would be there forever, says Bernie. But they had torn the whole bridge down.

Gloria laughs and shakes her head at these reminiscences.

So only we remain, she says.

The Youngs were just 13 when they met at that teen gathering in their Roseburg neighborhood, but they say they instantly knew they were meant to be together.

Who I am and what I am was determined during those years in high school with Gloria, says Bernie.

Gloria says Bernie was her one true love as well.

He was the standard that I measured everyone else by, she says.

The two will celebrate their 19th anniversary this May. They work together running the Coldwell Banker Pro West office on Crater Lake Avenue in Medford.

We're really soul mates, says Bernie. We probably have been from day one.

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Bernie and Gloria Young will celebrate 19 years of marriage in May. They first fell in love as teenagers in Roseburg in 1955. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven