Wayne and Pearl Romann have a lot of shared loves, but the one that brought them together is dancing.
It was on the dance floor where the pair first met, at the Grand View Heights Ballroom on Big Pine Lake near Perham. It was the summer of 1947; a time when dance halls were popular places, with people flocking to lakeside hot spots on warm summer evenings to let loose and kick up their feet.
Pearl was a 17-year-old local girl, and Wayne a 23-year-old local boy. He asked her for a dance one night, and that was that.
Pearl realized "just about right away" that Wayne was the the one for her, she recalls today, and he felt the same spark. For the next year, the couple got together whenever they could to shake a leg at dance halls all over the Perham area, and on Oct. 21, 1948, they were married.
Today, 68 years later, they continue to hit the dance floor together. Pearl is 86 years old now, and Wayne is 93, but they still don't miss a beat. About once a month, they meet up with other seniors to do the waltz, two-step, and other "old-time" dances at the Frazee Event Center.
"I would say we're very active for our age," says Pearl.
She considers Wayne her best friend, and vice-versa. It's always been that way for the Romanns; to this day, the two are nearly inseparable.
"We're very close," Pearl says. "Most of the time, we go everywhere together. If we're going to go out someplace and do something, we do it together. We're pretty good side-by-side."
They attend St. Paul's Lutheran Church together, play a monthly game of Bingo with veterans at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home, and go out as a couple to visit friends and play cards. They also regularly host large groups of friends and family at their home in Perham, often making their specialty, potato pancakes, or having a fish fry. Guests drop by their place all the time, and are always treated to coffee, snacks and good stories.
On the rare occasions that they're not together, it's probably because Wayne is volunteering to wash dishes after a funeral service at St. Paul's, or Pearl is at a meeting of the local American Legion or V.F.W. She is an active member of both.
Albert and Mary Ann Jorgenson, who have known Wayne and Pearl for most of their lives, describe the pair as "happy and funny."
"They love their family and friends, and they like to be busy," says Mary Ann. "They like to have us stop over for coffee. Every time we come to town, we stop there. A lot of people do."
Wayne and Al, whose parents were very close, have fished and hunted together since they were boys, and later, Pearl taught Al how to dance. The two couples have gone out dancing together many times over the years, and sometimes still do.
"We always have a good time together," laughs Al. "We're always giving each other a rough time. We play cards and give each other heck—all in fun."
The Jorgensons say they've never known Wayne and Pearl to fight. And remarkably, Wayne and Pearl can't remember ever getting into a serious argument, not once in all their years together.
"Wayne and I never argued," says Pearl. "We work together. It just naturally works."
The pair makes a good team, without really trying. If Pearl cooks supper, for example, Wayne will wash the dishes afterward. Or he'll help to cut and prepare the food beforehand. They also work together to make and sell sewing projects, such as infant dresses—Wayne cuts, Pearl sews.
Their well-balanced, give-and-take relationship was especially beneficial during the years they owned a business together. Wayne and Pearl ran a bait shop in Perham for more than 40 years, called Romann Bait, and had their own hatchery.
"A lot of it was fun," Wayne says. "Some of it was hard work. We hardly got any sleep on weekends."
"We were a team together, with that," Pearl adds. "We just work good side-by-side."
In addition to running the business, Wayne was a full-time truck driver; his career was already underway when he met Pearl, and he continued driving all the way into his eighties. Pearl drove truck for a short time, too. She also waitressed and held a variety of odd jobs before becoming a school bus driver for Bauck Bussing for 37 years. She still runs into some of her former "kids" around town, she says, and likes getting hugs from them.
The couple also raised three children: a son, Wayne Jr., and two daughters, Shirley and June.
There were some hectic years while the kids were young, the couple recalls, but they don't remember any times in their marriage that were particularly challenging.
"I can say we had a happy marriage," says Pearl. "It was work, but you have to work to make a home. And we worked together. We've had a very happy life together."
Part of that is due to Wayne's easygoing nature, she explains: "He's like his dad—what comes, comes; what goes, goes."
She's mostly the same way, she says, though she "likes to get things done" and so tends to be "the pusher."
But their happiness is also due to "love," Pearl says, pure and simple. Neither of them can pinpoint one particular characteristic or quality that they love about the other; it's just everything put together. The complete package.
Their advice for young couples hoping for a long-time love of their own?
"Just stick together; work hard together," Wayne says. "Work at it. It's not all a bed of roses, but work together and you can make a home."