East Boothbay couple found love planning 50th reunion

football_cheerleaderIn 1952, Al Sirois was the Salem (Massachusetts) High School football quarterback and Shirley Chouinard was head cheerleader, but their love match took almost 50 years to materialize.

The two grew up in Salem, a coastal community 16 miles north of Boston. They lived about 500 feet from each other. They were both Class of 1952 graduates. The two never dated or ran in the same social circles. The closest they ever got in high school was on fall Friday nights. Al was completing his third season as the starting quarterback and Shirley cheered on the sidelines.

Romance blossomed when they joined the Class of 1952 reunion organizing committee. The class began preparing in 2001 for their 50th reunion. As committee members, they corresponded daily for the next five months. At first, Al ended his message ‘Stay well.’ Next it was ‘Fondly,’ and after five months it was ‘Love, Al’.

When Al and Shirley joined the reunion committee, they were living on different coasts, Al in East Boothbay, Maine, and Shirley in Southern California. Both were widowers.

After five months of email correspondence, Al picked up the phone and asked Shirley to be his date at his 47th Massachusetts Maritime Academy college reunion. They had a marvelous time.

On the night of the college reunion, Al asked Shirley to marry him.

“He showed up in a suit and tie and I go ‘whoa’ I’ve found love,” she said.

As the couple spent more time together, they discovered more about each other. They both took ballroom dance lessons at Miss James Dance School in Salem. Al remembered dancing with a girl in a bright pink angora sweater. Shirley remembered wearing pink angora sweaters to dances.

Shirley returned to California with an engagement ring. The Sirois married after they attended their high school reunion the next year and have been happily married since.

From a story by Bill Pearson in the Boothbay Register, Boothbay Harbor, Maine.