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‘I Was on My Knee with the Ring…I Remember the Excitement on Her Face’

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BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY

Special to the Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

GEORGE L. AND TRACEY ROBINSON Jr.

Live: Forestdale

Married: June 24, 1995

Met: June 1989. Tracey, then 17, and her family moved from Selma into Birmingham’s Thomas neighborhood next door to George, then 18, and his family.

“My nephew and her brother became best friends and they set us up,” George said. “…they decided they were gonna hook us up, and started making up stories that they would [pass between the two of them]…,” Tracey added.

“At the time, I was athletic and I would jog, and every time I ran by jogging, Tracey would come outside and watch,” George recalled.

Tracey begged to differ. “I was a homebody, and I would sit outside on my porch, and every time he would see me outside he would come outside and start running,” Tracey laughed.

“And she would watch,” George added.

George had graduated from Jackson Olin that May and that summer, for his birthday, had one wish, and that was for Tracey to go out on a date with him.

“He did ask me on a date and at first, I said ‘no’, and then he asked me again the next day. He was pretty persistent, so I said, ‘yes,” Tracey recalled.

First date: July 1989, at Long John Silvers, in Forestdale, and to East Lake Park for an after-dinner walk.

“I was casually dressed, and she had on a sparkly gold outfit. I liked it, she presented herself very well, and she was attractive to the eye,” George recalled.

“He’s a smooth talker, as you can see,” Tracey said. “You got to remember, I’m a country girl who was new to the city, and I didn’t know how to dress so I went and bought a new outfit and that was my new outfit,” she laughed. “It was my first date, I didn’t know anything about Long John Silvers… I liked the food, we had nice conversation. We got to know each other and talked about each other’s lives. It was a nice and easy-going getting-to-know-you date.”

“It was very refreshing to be able to talk with someone that could hold my attention. We were supposed to go home after dinner, however, she was so elated with my conversation that she wanted more, so she asked to go somewhere else,” George said.

The turn: George and Tracey dated under their parents’ supervision for about a year and a half. But for George, things became more serious in the summer of 1991. They went to Chattanooga, Tenn., and “at that moment things took a turn for me, and every payday I would either bring her roses or a teddy bear,” George said.

Tracey began to take their courtship more seriously that summer as well.

“I was really intrigued by his kindness and gentleness. He was a sweet guy, and easy to talk to. Anything that I needed to talk to him about he was open and understanding and he always had good advice. He introduced me to a lot around here in Birmingham, we went to different restaurants, and we used to go to the nightclub [The French Quarter, in Birmingham] … We would go out of town on the weekends to reconnect… he took time out for us to get closer and learn each other and I liked that,” Tracey said.

The proposal: Christmas 1992, George proposed at his home in front of both of their families, and Tracey had extended family in from out of town.

“I took polaroid pictures all around my house, and the first gift I gave her was a picture of [a location in my house], it was like a little scavenger hunt I put together for her, and when she got to [the area on the picture] she got another gift/picture, and the [scavenger hunt] ended with her in my living room, and I was on my knee with the ring out, and I proposed. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I said something along the lines of ‘will you be Mrs. Robinson?’ But I do remember the excitement on her face, and she immediately said ‘yes’,” George said.

“I don’t think anyone in the house knew what was going on, everybody was just looking at me running back and forth,” Tracey said. “I was expecting a Christmas gift at some point but I never thought it would be a proposal. We had talked about marriage a little bit, but not extensively. And [after receiving the last photo in the scavenger hunt] I was coming around the corner in his house and I saw everybody looking at him, and then I saw him on his knee, and I did get excited, and I did immediately say ‘yes’,” she laughed.

The wedding: At Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, in Pratt City, officiated by pastor, Dr. Quinton Hammonds. And as the Robinson family tradition would have it, their colors were also purple and ivory.

Most memorable for the bride was learning of yet another Robinson family tradition on their wedding night. “The Robinsons had a lot of traditions… [George and I] lived in a one bedroom apartment on the Southside, and when we got home after the wedding and got all of the gifts in the house, there was a knock on the door, and I wondered who can that be, and it was all of his siblings [five brothers, and one sister] there to help us open our gifts,” Tracey recalled. “They did bring refreshments, but we had to open our gifts with all of them, and they actually stayed until we were done! And I said are there any more traditions that I need to know about?” she laughed.

Most memorable for the groom was how beautiful the entire day was. “The day seemed to have been extra bright and sunny, everything was just right, and the ceremony was beautiful,” George said. “But, at the reception when we were doing the bouquet and garter toss, I had pair of real big underwear in my shirt pocket, and I acted as if I was getting the garter from under her dress and pulled those out big underwear and Tracey’s mother’s face told an entire story!” George laughed. “It was an epic moment, and we danced the night away.”

Honeymoon: In Tallahassee, Florida. “We could not afford to go anywhere, so we went to our good friend’s home in Tallahassee and attended their family reunion,” George said. “They had invited the newlyweds, so that’s what we did,” Tracey added.

Words of wisdom: “The recipe for a happy marriage is to maintain God at the forefront. Pray often, and love in spite of. There are going to be good days and bad, however, I believe love overcomes a multitude of faults, and I think that’s the key,” George said.

“Keep God first, through Him all things are possible. But the most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open. Lack of communication can sometimes cause more harm than good. So always communicate and let each other know what is on your mind, good or bad. In this life, there are good days and bad days, but through it all, stick together and pray daily,” Tracey said.

Happily ever after: The Robinsons pastor First Missionary Baptist Church of East Thomas, and have three adult children: Bre’Ana, and Ayanna, and George III.

Tracey, 50, is a Selma native, and Jackson Olin High School Grad. She attended Virginia College, in Birmingham, where she earned an associate’s degree in medical billing and coding, and works as a pre-registration II clerk, for the Brookwood Baptist Hospital organization.

George, 51, is a Thomas native, and Jackson Olin High School grad. He attended Bessemer Tech where he earned an associate’s degree in printing, and Birmingham Easonian Baptist Bible College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Counsel, and pastors First Missionary Baptist Church of East Thomas.

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