Back when Earle Murie and Laurette Ellis were first dating, movies cost 32 cents, fresh milk was delivered to one's front steps at the crack of dawn, and love songs were sweeter and a tad more innocent.

Three-quarters of a century later, movie tickets are $10, milk is no longer delivered to front porches, and love songs ... well, you be the judge.

But not everything has changed since the days of big bands and pin-up girls.

Earle and Laurette — high school sweethearts in 1944 who went their separate ways, married other people, raised children and ultimately outlived their spouses — are dating again.

In fact, Earle, 90, and Laurette, 89, are getting married. Next month. Nearly 75 years after their romance first blossomed.

"True love does stand the test of time," says Heather Hunter, a spokeswoman for Brookdale Riverwalk, a senior living community where the nonagenarian and his fiancee live. As Valentine's Day approaches, Hunter says, Earle and Laurette are living proof, an inspiration for aspiring romantics to never give up on love.

In 1944, World War II was still raging. Earle was 16, captain of the track team at Pomona High in Southern California. Laurette — now Laurette Gallo — was a columnist for the school newspaper.

"We went together in high school. She went her way. I went mine," Earle remembers.

They remained friends, saw each other at high school reunions. Four years ago, he moved to Bakersfield. She was widowed and living in Arizona.

Then last summer, six months after Earle lost his wife of 67 years, Laurette called to wish him a happy birthday.

"It was the first time I ever called him," Laurette remembers.

Something clicked.

"I visited her. We renewed our friendship," Earle remembers. "Then we found out it was more than a friendship."

Not long after returning home, Earle proposed over the phone.

She said yes.

In a way, the couple are experiencing a classic whirlwind romance. They say tomorrow is never promised, but when you're 89 and 90, every tomorrow is a gift.

But in another sense, theirs is a lifelong love. It may have become dormant, but it never truly died.

Watching them together — watching as Earle places his arm around her, watching as their eyes meet — it all becomes suddenly clear.

A spark that was first ignited when they were just teenagers was never really extinguished.

"We had no inkling of any romance during all those years," he said. "We were faithful to our spouses."

But when they renewed their 75-year-old romance, it was immediately clear that a "special feeling" still existed.

"I know her," Earle says. "I know the kind of person she is."

How do they know they're in love?

You know "by the longing to be together," Laurette says.

Music is a big part of their lives, and Earle, a teacher by profession, was a singer and actor in community theater for many years of his life.

And when Earle breaks into song, Nat King Cole's "For Sentimental Reasons," Laurette turns to him, her eyes tearing up.

"I think of you every morning, dream of you every night," he sings in his still-silky baritone. "Darling, I'm never lonely, whenever you are in sight."

Earle and Laurette are set to be wed on March 9.

Two days later, they leave on a cruise to Hawaii.

"Life begins at 90," Laurette says.

And who could argue otherwise?

Happy Valentine's Day, Earle and Laurette.

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.