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‘I Had Fallen In Love And It Was All Over Then’


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


Live: McCalla

Married: June 15, 1974

Met: June 1970, in Roosevelt City, a Birmingham area neighborhood. Delois had just graduated from George Washington Carver High School and had moved in with her father. To pass time, she would sit on the front porch and people watch. One person caught her eye day after day.

“I used to see this fine gentleman pass by every day and I would sit on my porch waiting for the day he would stop and say something but he never would. He just kept riding by, smiling and waving,” Delois said. “So one day I decided to ask a friend of mine who this guy was and [described Donald and his car] and he told me Donald lived in the projects… and I told him I needed him to carry me down to [Donald’s] house because I was tired of him passing by and not saying anything, and my friend told me ‘you don’t really want to meet Donald, he’s squarer than a cardboard box’, and I said ‘That’s alright, I’ll round him out’…,” she laughed.

“When I got down there he was washing his car with his shirt off, and he was looking so good,” Delois recalled.

Delois was forward with Donald. She got straight to the point and asked why he never stopped to say hello and if he would like to exchange numbers.

Donald said her bold approach was intriguing. “I thought a lot of Delois for coming down there to connect with me. I knew who she was, I used to wave at her every day, and I thought she was a cute little chocolate drop,” he said. “I thought she was a little tough [being so forward], but I liked that she came after what she wanted.”

The next day Donald and Delois ended up at the movies but were with different people. “We looked at each other smiling but didn’t say anything. He called a couple of days later and we set up plans to go out that Friday,” Delois said.

First date: June 1970, they went on a double date with another couple from the neighborhood and went to the movies [at a no longer existing theater] in Five Points West, and saw “Cotton Comes to Harlem.”

“It was a good date, we checked out the movie and had our popcorn and snacks. And we left the movie and went over to a friend’s house and had some cold drinks and just talked and got to know each other, and after that, he took me home,” Delois said.

“When I brought her home, her daddy was still up waiting for her in the den in his fruit of the loom-long johns,” Donald laughed, “he was trying to make sure I got her home before midnight.”

“And when I walked Donald to the door I kissed him goodnight, I got my kiss!,” Delois said.

The turn: January 1971. “We dated and talked for about six months and one day he asked me if we were going to be dating other people, and I said ‘Uh, I don’t know’, and he said, ‘From now on I don’t want us to be dating other people’ and I said, ‘I’m fine with that.’ I wasn’t dating anybody else anyway, I had who I wanted,” said Delois.

“I had fallen in love and it was all over then, so I put the other girls to the side and decided we’d be together,” Donald said. “Then she started inviting me over to eat fried chicken and homemade fries, or sausage biscuits… and a lot of the time I’d be getting ready to go to work and she’d have put together a little chicken lunch for me.”

Speaking of chicken lunches, Donald was giving them away.  “I could not believe when I found he was giving away my chicken. He said he was taught you don’t eat from a women’s table because she could be trying to put a whammy [spell] on you… but I didn’t understand it because he would eat my food in front of me but give it away [when I’m not around],” Delois said.

“That was in the beginning, Donald responded. “But once I got to know her and started loving her, I knew she wasn’t trying to put a whammy on me,” he laughed.

The proposal: Sept. 13, 1972, at Delois’ father’s home in Roosevelt City. Donald popped the question on her birthday.

“We had gone ring shopping a couple of months before my birthday so I knew it was coming… We had gone to dinner that night for my birthday at Century Plaza Mall and went back to my house to watch some television when Donald called himself proposing,” Delois said. “He said, “Next year on my vacation we’re going to get married” And I said, ‘what?’ And he [repeated himself], and I said, ‘is this supposed to be a proposal?’ And he said, ‘Well, yeah’, and I said, ‘that’s not how you propose to somebody, you have to ask me’”

“So then I said ‘OK, honey, will you marry me?’,” Donald said. “I was getting older, and if I was going to have some children, I wanted to have them before I was 30 and it was coming up,” he laughed.

“And I wish he had told me that earlier because I would’ve left him alone. I didn’t want no babies that early, I wanted to spend 10 years of it being just he and I… and after about 7 or 8 months [into the marriage] he started on the baby talk asking, ‘what’s wrong, why you’re not pregnant yet?’ He thought [I was infertile] but I was just still taking my birth control pills,” Delois laughed. “He started bringing me home Geritol, and vitamins calling himself making me healthy [to conceive], and he was wasting money because I was throwing all that stuff away… 8 months later I stopped taking my birth control and got pregnant with Jr.,” she said.

The wedding: At Bethel Baptist Church [Fifth Avenue] in Bessemer, officiated by the Rev. E.L. Nevett. Their colors were green and yellow.

Most memorable for the bride was a moment with her mother-in-law-to-be before walking down the aisle. “I had just lost my youngest brother, Larry, [to an accidental death during military training in the Panama Canal] and I was thinking about him as I was getting ready to enter the church and Donald’s mother said to me, ‘You may have lost your brother, but look at what we’ve gained. Now I have a daughter, and you have three more brothers,’ and that really blew me away. …I understood that she was saying I was precious to her and I gained three new brothers,” said Delois.

Most memorable for the groom was “when I kissed my bride. Everyone at a wedding waits on that special moment after you get through all the vows, and when the pastor says, ‘You may now kiss the bride’ [reality sets in], and I was like ‘Wow, I really got a wife now’,” Donald said.

The couple will reach their golden anniversary in June, making 50 years of matrimony. However, 50 years later, they cannot recall where they honeymooned.

“I know we had one, but Lord, I can’t remember where! I’ll have to look back through our albums to find out,” Delois laughed.

“We went to Florida with Jr.,” said Donald.

“Honey, he wasn’t even born yet,” Delois laughed, “we’ll have to get back to you if we ever figure it out.”

Words of wisdom: “Have God in your life [in order to stay] together, and you gotta have trust. You gotta give on both sides, and you have to talk,” Donald said. “When you have doubts don’t just hold it in, speak it out. And no marriage works unless you love one another. Do things together… anyone can try and separate you, but you have to remember that you are one and you have to trust each other. Follow those guidelines and things will work out for you.”

“When Donald and I got married I noticed that he would get on his knees every night and say his prayers, and growing up in my house we didn’t do that. He had a personal relationship with God, and it made me want the same, and I knew I had made the right decision marrying him because he was a godly man. So, couples, pray together, laugh about everything, and live your life in love. A happy wife is a happy life,” Delois said.

Happily ever after: The Masons attend New Bethlehem Baptist Church in Bessemer where Donald serves as an usher and is in the male chorus and Delois serves on the funeral committee and as a pastor’s assistant. They have three adult sons, ages 46-41, Donald Jr., Darrian and Draper, and five grandchildren.

Delois, 71, is an East Birmingham native, and George Washington Carver High School grad. She attended Southern Business College [Birmingham], where she earned an associate’s degree in business administration, and worked at Union Envelope in Birmingham as a fine paper buyer for 11 years, and moved on to PSI International Paper Company, where she worked as the office manager for six years. After those jobs, Delois attended Southeastern School of Cosmetology [Birmingham] where she earned a cosmetology certification and opened her own salon, Dondees Hair Salon on 3rd Ave West in Birmingham, and retired in 2014 after 14 years.

Donald, 75, is a Roosevelt City [Birmingham] native, and Wenonah High School grad. He attended Lawson State Community College where he earned a certificate in automotive repair, and worked for Hayes Aircraft, where he worked as an aircraft technician for three years. Donald went on to work for MAX [Birmingham City Bus System] where he worked as an automotive technician for 25 years and retired from the Jefferson County Department of Transportation as an automotive technician after 12 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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