Calhoun Magazine

January - February 2017

Dalton Daily CItizen, Calhoun Magazine

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Calhoun Magazine | January/February 2017 | 17 I could not be more thankful to have been asked to write this article —a love story—about my parents. The fact that my mother, Gloria Cooley, is not a woman of few words is probably the conclusion that anyone who has ever met her would reach. However, Gloria does choose very selectively with whom to share personal information. In one of our conversations she stated, "I can talk all day and not say anything." My dad and I quickly agreed, and then we all laughed. My father, Kenneth Cooley, on the other hand is an extremely private person and a man of few words. .HQQHWKDVNHG*ORULDRXWWKH¿UVWGD\KHPHWKHUDW Dutch's restaurant in Owen's Cross Roads, Alabama. His ¿UVWWLPHGLQLQJDW'XWFK¶VKHPHWDVHUYHU*ORULD-HDQ Byrd, and seven months later, she became his wife. When asked why he wanted to go out with Gloria, he replied, seemingly surprised that asked, "Why would you not?" He then elaborated that he thought she was very, very pretty (and sexy) and had the same outgoing friendly personality. And so he asked her out the day they met. "He was shy and so polite is why I accepted his invitation. He seemed interesting and I thought he had the SUHWWLHVWKDQGV´*ORULDUHPHPEHUHG7KH&RROH\¶V¿UVW date was on Valentine's Day—February 14, 1968. They went to a local drag strip. Kenneth raced almost every weekend and his life-long love of racing had already EHJXQ7KLVZDV*ORULD¶V¿UVWLQWURGXFWLRQWRUDFLQJ7KH setting quickly became a regular date site for the couple. *ORULDUHFDOOHGWKDW.HQQHWKZRQWKH¿UVWUDFHWKDWQLJKW but during the second race "a round thing fell out from underneath the car." He had busted the drive shaft. They spoke the following day and were pretty much inseparable from that moment forward. I was curious how their families and friends viewed the new couple so smitten with one another. I must admit that I was a bit surprised when my mother said that her friends didn't think that the relationship would last because she was too "hot-headed" for my quiet reserved father. I have never thought of my mother as being hot-headed, so this led to an interesting conversation and good laughs. Kenneth said his friends and family all liked Gloria. He once again credited her outgoing personality as one reason that she's so likable. The Cooleys dated seven months and married Sept 14, 1968. Kenneth had been eighteen years old plus one month, and Gloria was one month shy of turning eighteen years old when they wed. During my life, I recall my mother repeatedly making the point that she thinks this is far too young to marry, even though they have made their marriage work. She made the point again during our conversation. She clearly made her point to my siblings and me given we were twenty-nine, thirty, and thirty-eight years of age when we married our VLJQL¿FDQWRWKHUV When asked about the preparation for their wedding, Daddy laughed. "We went to the preacher's house," he said. "Well, I did buy that little lace dress," Mom added. I was clearly left with the impression that the emphasis was not on the ceremony itself. Both were very focused on committing their lives to one another. Kenneth and Gloria Cooley ~a love story~ by DANA COOLEY-KEITH h in Magazine | January/February 2017 | 17 th he to n e nt A young Gloria Jean Byrd fell head over heels in love with Kenneth Cooley.

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