“She was wearing red cowboy boots,” he said. “Red cowboy boots!”
Larry Davison says that his city-slicker soon-to-be-wife showed up at the family farm to ride horses in red cowboy boots. It was enough to make him chuckle, but not enough for him to stop courting the 19-year-old from Dodge City.
In fact, it wasn’t enough to stop him from marrying Barbara Brehm.
On Feb. 4, they will have been married for 56 years.
The Yukon couple are an example of love that grows stronger through the ages.
They have three children, nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
And it all began with a game of footsy under a table at the library on the campus of Dodge City Junior College in 1961.
“We met our freshman year. He came from a farm east of Dodge City, and I was a city girl,” Barbara Davison said.
The couple said Barbara was nursing a sprained ankle in the library when Larry began playing footsy under the table.
“I was attracted to her wit. She had a sprained ankle and I thought, ‘ah-ha, at least I can catch this one,” Larry Davison joked.
Davison asked her out and she, despite having just broken up with a longtime flame, said yes.
“He asked me if I wanted to go on a date. He’d been bugging me, so I said ‘yes’ thinking I would get rid of him,” she said.
Instead, the two had so much fun, Barbara said they just kept dating.
That first date involved a walk through a Dodge City Park and along the railroad tracks.
That date led to other dates.
“We went to drive-in movies and things like that,” Larry said.
“We went fishing and hunting, too,” Barbara added.
However, they had a major obstacle to overcome.
Larry was a football player and Barbara was planning to go the University of Kansas in Lawrence for her sophomore year.
How would that work?
“For some reason, I kept catching trains or catching rides to Dodge to watch him play football,” she said. “Then I would have to boogie back to class.”
The KU experiment only lasted a semester.
Larry popped the question, and she returned to Dodge City to continue her education.
The couple married Feb. 4, 1962, and graduated from Dodge City Junior College later that spring.
They began their lives together at Northwestern State College in Alva later that fall.
Their first child arrived about 18 months later in the midst of their senior year.
They lived in a tiny 34-foot trailer for two years. Their son accompanied his mom to school.
And both worked part-time jobs so they could graduate together.
“That was our main quest, that we both stick it out and get a degree,” said Larry, who attended school on a football scholarship.
He got a degree in social studies, while Barbara’s degree was in biology and chemistry.
He was going to be a coach, she was going to be a nurse.
He began his coaching career, which eventually led him to become the superintendent at Calumet, where he served for 10 years before retiring in 2000.
In between, he had successful stints in places like Madill and Greenfield.
After her three children were grown, she returned to school to get her nursing degree.
She eventually went to work at South Community Hospital and the Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City.
She retired from the Heart Hospital in 2008.
It wasn’t always easy, they said. But they have had a successful marriage.
“It is like a book — it has different chapters. You start out just getting to know each other, but as you age, your values change. … After the children are gone, you return to it just being the two of you. I think that is where a lot of people break down,” Larry said.
“We made it. We managed,” Barbara added.
Larry said a big part of the success of their marriage has been being adaptive to the changes.
“You’ve got to be adaptive to the other’s likes and dislikes. If you can make those changes and still communicate, they you are on the right road,” he said.
Communication is the most important aspect of marriage, Barbara said, but it also is important to do things together while giving each other space.
And every marriage has its ups and downs.
Barbara said there were times when their marriage could have collapsed.
“We came close a time or two, but we decided it was not what we wanted. We wanted to keep our family together, and we wanted each other. So, we made it happen,” she said. “It is hard work, it is perseverance and it takes patience.”
“The love is not just thrown out overnight,” Larry said.
“We’ve made it. The good Lord has kept us going,” she said.
The couple said they have no regrets.
“We’re still together. I can’t imagine life without him. He’s always there when I needed him,” Barbara said.