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‘I Told Her How Much I Loved Her and How [The Ring] Was Long Overdue’

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BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY | Special to the Birmingham Times

ANTOINETTE AND ADOLPHUS PLUMP III

Live: Smithfield

Married: Dec. 1, 1990

Met: They met as children at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, which was bombed by the Klu Klux Klan in September of 1963, claiming the lives of four girls. Both of their families had been lifelong members. In the summer of 1976, when they were 16 and 17 years old, Antoinette sparked a connection when she instigated a game of chase during youth choir rehearsal.

“For some reason, I had my cap off during rehearsal and she just kept making eyes at me… I was really intrigued by that because I wore glasses and people considered me a nerd, and I was very shy,” Adolphus recalled. “Back then, guys used to have to know how to ‘rap’ to a girl, and that’s when you can talk to them real smooth, and I was shy, so I didn’t rap,” he laughed. “After rehearsal, I had to chase her around the church to get my cap back and that let me know [there was interest] and I guess that’s when we started our puppy love.”

“We had always been kind of friendly, and the way that Adolphus was [shy and introverted] was interesting and I wanted to feel him out to see if he was interested in me and to see how far it would go,” Antoinette recalled. “[And by] him chasing me I knew he was interested and there was potential for us to start talking and maybe go out.”

“I think we exchanged numbers, and back in those days we kinda already knew where each other lived and I got her number and started talking and we went out on a date,” he said.

First date: Summer 1976, at the Melba Theater [no longer standing] in downtown Birmingham. They saw “The Exorcist” and went to eat at Arby’s after.

“During the movie, he put his arm around me and he held my hand, but at

Arby’s he was very shy and nervous and it was hard to get him to talk to me,” Antoinette said. “But after that, he took me home and we sat out on my front porch and talked and he was more relaxed then.”

“Antoinette was pretty, and I was thinking why me? I just remember I was nervous because she comes from a big family and she has a lot of brothers, and I think that was why I was so shy because I was scared of her brothers,” Adolphus said. “She was a very down-to-earth girl and so was her family and we found out we had a lot of common interests. Back then she was more outgoing than I was, and she was more [forward] in letting me know she was enjoying my company.”

Antoinette and Adolphus Plum III met as children at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and later began dating in 1976. (Provided Photos)

The turn: Summer 1976. For Adolphus, “It happened that night when we started holding hands at the movies. At that age, we were in uncharted territory so neither of us came out and said it, but I wasn’t thinking about being with anybody else, I was excited to have a girlfriend because we were enjoying each other so much,” he said.

“I agree with him on that,” said Antoinette, “It became real early on. We enjoyed each other, we went to parties together, we went to the movies, did things with the [church] youth department, everything we did, we did together and that just made us more in tune with each other.”

The proposal: Aug. 17, 1990, at Grady’s at the Galleria Mall in Hoover. “Back then I didn’t have a vehicle, and Antoinette was picking me up for us to go on a date that night, and when she picked me up, I had two dozen red roses for her. And whenever we were together, she’d turn the wheel over to me (and still does), so she didn’t know where we were going to dinner, but she sat over in the passenger seat smiling and smelling her roses,” Adolphus said. “I think she knew it was going to happen that night since we had talked about it and we had shopped for the ring so it wasn’t a total surprise, but I still wanted to make it special for her.  After we were seated, I wanted to go ahead and give it to her, and I told her how much I loved her and how this was long overdue. We had been going together for 14 years and it was obvious we were meant for each other, and I asked her would she marry me? It was fun [to propose before dinner] because she wore a smile on her face that I had never seen before and it made me feel good because it wasn’t just something that I wanted, this was something that we wanted.”

“I didn’t necessarily know he was going to propose that night, I just knew we were going someplace special to have some fun that night,” Antoinette said. “I told him ‘yes’, and it was funny because people around us were watching us, but he made it special and it was my honor to say ‘let’s do this’. And he talks about my smile, but his smile was just as big. We were both so excited about what we were about to do.”

The wedding: At 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, officiated by Reverend Christopher Hamlin. Their colors were teal and dusty rose.

Most memorable for the bride was being serenaded by Adolphus’s best friend.

“We were standing there holding hands, and we were in awe of what was going on because [Adolphus’s best friend] had written the song and it just made the ceremony even more beautiful,” Antoinette said.

Most memorable for the groom was getting his bride and a win from his favorite football team on the same day. “We were being videoed as we were leaving the pulpit to exit the church and they got me on video saying, ‘Kiss the Bride and Roll Tide’ because Alabama and Auburn played against each other that day and Alabama won,” Adolphus said.

They honeymooned in their new apartment in Smithfield Estates.

Words of wisdom: “Communication is the most important because you have to have it in order to keep things going. Also support, because I went through pancreatic cancer treatment, chemo, and therapy, and he knows more about my cancer treatment than me. He was always there talking to the doctors… I was fortunate I was able to get Whipple surgery procedure [a major surgical operation most often performed to remove cancerous tumors from the head of the pancreas] and God got us through that. Put God first in everything that you do, that’s at the top of the list,” Antoinette said.

Adolphus said, “What has helped us sustain through the years is thinking of each other. Make sure you’re thinking about what your spouse would enjoy. What she would like to eat, where she would like to go. I am always thinking of different ways to think of her, and I have found that the most satisfaction in marriage comes when you are thinking of each other. It’s great to surprise your spouse because being thought of means a lot.”

Happily ever after: The Plumps attend the historic 16th Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, where Adolphus serves as a Deacon, and Antoinette as a Deaconess. They have one daughter, Daidre’ 33, and one grandson, Jace.

Antoinette, 64, is a Pratt City native, and P.D. Jackson Olin High School grad. She attended Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University, where she studied criminal justice and social work, and works as a judicial assistant at the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in downtown Birmingham.

Adolphus, 63, is a Smithfield native, and John Carroll High School grad. He attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB] where he studied business administration and theater, and works for Richelieu America, where he’s served as an inside sales rep for 38 years.

“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.

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