When Colleen McBride and Jerry Randall were in kindergarten, the teacher had to separate them. Jerry kept trying to kiss Colleen while they were supposed to be practicing their letters.
Eventually the young lovers did learn to read and write. They went on to sample, together, all that Riverside Elementary had to offer.In later grades they were calmer and were allowed to sit next to each other. She remembers asking him for help with arithmetic. He remembers cheering for her when she was in the spelling bee.\ In third grade she had her appendix removed. He was waiting at the classroom door with a hand-drawn card to welcome her back. In fourth grade they were partners in the dance festival.
Most years she was the only girl at his birthday party and he was the only boy at hers. In a scrapbook, he carefully pasted every valentine she ever gave him.
He's still pasting. Colleen's still sending him cards. For the past 17 years, she's been signing those cards, "Your loving wife."
This time of year you're likely to hear folks bragging about having married their high school sweetheart. But long before high school, Randall and McBride were drawn to each other. He remembers showing off for her on the playground. Something sweet happened between them there.
You could say they fell in love, though it wasn't a passionate, adult kind of love. It began as a wriggly, giggly little kid love. And it grew like a long-legged child. Already Colleen and Jerry Randall have loved each other for more than 30 years, longer than a lot of couples are married.
Yes and no, says Sharon Toronto Mollinet. "Romantic is the tall dark stranger. The unknown quality. That moment when you suddenly click.
"When you've clicked with someone all your life you never have that moment."
Sharon Toronto's family moved in next door to Mark Mollinet's family when Sharon was 3 months old. She figures they met each other in the nursery at church.
Their earliest memories are of playing together. "We built elaborate spaceships with Legos," says Toronto. When the other children teased them for having a best friend of the opposite sex, Mark and Sharon lied and said they were cousins and kept on playing together.
Once they sluffed kindergarten to play. He rang her doorbell, as he did every morning, and their mothers watched as they set off down the street. They circled the block, snuck back into his house and hid in the closet to make a cake in the EZ Bake Oven.
They liked creative play. "In fourth grade we turned his whole room into a house, by splitting it up into rooms," says Toronto. They built their own furniture.
The idea of playing house forever grew on them slowly. During high school, Toronto says, they dated each other and others too. They talked about their other dates. "It was a best friendship. We didn't feel jealous because we didn't feel owned by each other. We just didn't have that romantic attachment," Toronto says. He didn't think about love in high school, Mollinet says. "I dated for fun."
As a boy, he says, "When I pictured a marriage I pictured Sharon as the wife. In high school I realized other possibilities did exist."
When he came home from his mission, though, they knew they were at a turning point. They'd either have to admit they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together or try to figure out a way to introduce a potential spouse to their "best friend." They couldn't use the old "cousin" routine forever.
They married last June. "We'd both thought, for a lot of our lives, that this was a possibility," Toronto says.
The Randalls, too, grew up picturing themselves together.
For a few years, during junior high, Colleen and Jerry weren't in love. He got shy and she decided to go steady with someone else.
But they were still friends. And their friendship heated up again during their junior year of high school when being on the basketball team gave him that extra edge of self-confidence. He started winking at her from the court, she says.
He remembers it a bit differently. "Sheasked me to a party."
However it happened, they married when they were 20, in 1973. In 1976, Salt Lake City School District administrators decided to demolish Riverside Elementary and sell the property. So Colleen and Jerry Randall bought a lot and built a home. Now they live on the site of their old playground, right where their love began.As for the Mollinets, their brand-new marriage has a longtime feeling. Sharon says, "I think, having grown up together, we've grown a lot alike. We agree. We've never had a full-blown argument."
But that doesn't mean they never will, Mollinet says. "Our sisters say, `Oh you are so lucky to have this.' A lot of people act like there's no effort for us."
His wife adds, "There is effort in changing the relationship, changing from being friends . . . ."
" . . . To being something more than friends," he says, finishing the sentence for her, as people who have known each other all their lives are apt to do.