Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Townspeople

June 6, 2013

Still lovebirds after 70 years

Jitterbugging at the old Crystal Ballroom on Haverhill Street was a favorite pastime for Douglas Howe back in the day.

When a police officer threw him out from one of the dances, he knew he’d be back.

He loved to dance and soon had a pretty girl from Lawrence on his arm. He wanted to show her off.

So back he went to the Crystal Ballroom with Marie and he was able to get back in. They were just teenagers and they would return often, dancing the nights away.

Doug is now 92, Marie is 93. But the dancing memories — there certainly are a lot of them — still bring a smile to their faces.

After spending much of their lives in Andover, the Howes now call the Meadows in North Andover home. They will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on Saturday, June 8.

“All those silly things he did to make me smile still make me smile,” Marie said of their successful marriage. “That’s what he did.”

Doug, who was a Navy pilot and proudly wore his uniform on the couple’s wedding day in 1943, just shrugged as he listened to his wife, a nursing school graduate, pay him compliments last week.

“They really are lovebirds,” said Michelle Merrill, activity director at the Meadows. “Marie still rests her head on her husband’s shoulder.”

The Howes lived with their four children — three boys and a girl — on Arundel and Kenilworth streets before settling in the Smithshire Estates neighborhood.

Doug founded an insurance company and realty that was initially located on the second floor of 52 Main St.

He remembers when you could buy a house in Andover for less than $10,000 and can only shake his head at today’s housing prices.

“In 1955, you could do it ... I remember that,” he said.

Daughter Nancy Howe Erdman of Exeter, N.H., said her father ran his realty and insurance business for years in Andover. His business eventually merged with Doherty Insurance. He also sat on several boards in town over the years.

Today, the couple has 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, of which 14 are boys.

While they live in separate rooms at the Meadows, they are just steps apart.

They have no big anniversary plans, but one thing is for sure — the jitterbug fan will be showing off his pretty girl from Lawrence.

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