At Long Last, Love

Apparently, not all the women who went to work during World War II looked like Rosie the Riveter. In fact, there was one who could take your breath away, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports in this week's Assignment America.

"I said at the time I think she was the prettiest girl I think I ever saw," 83-year-old Ralph Dial says.

Dial says he and this girl worked together at an airplane parts factory in Knoxville, Tenn. Unfortunately, the girl had a guy — and after Ralph joined the Army Air Corps a few months later, he forgot her name anyway.

"And I thought, well it'll come to me. But over a period of time, I kept thinking about it and it never did come back," Dial says. "Never did."

Good thing, because Ralph met Jean — the woman he married and spent 53 years with, raising three children. When Jean passed away in 2001, Ralph says went into a major funk. His daughters pushed, pleaded and begged him to go out and meet people.

"I just didn't feel like getting involved in any personal relationships," Dial explains. "I didn't know anybody to get involved with."

Until, out of nowhere, Ralph was cruising along in his car, "and all of a sudden my eyes just opened wide awake."

After 60 years, it had finally come to him.

"Wide awake — her name's Vinita Anderson," he exclaims.

Here's where this story get a little Twilight Zone-ish.

That same day, Dial was looking through the local newspaper when he caught a glimpse of a letter to the editor. It was just a little note reminding us to thank the people who help us throughout the year. But it was signed by — you guessed it — Vinita Anderson.

"I just said 'this can't be.' I remembered her name, and here it is in print — this can't be," Ralph says.

Anderson had just recently moved back to Knoxville — and she remembered Dial just fine.

"I didn't know he fell in love with me," she says.

"She didn't know that for 60 years," he adds.

Anderson was widowed too — and a little bit lonely herself. So, to make a long story short: For the past four years, they've been getting together every weekend.

"He was just a wonderful person, and so kind," she says.

This weekend, they plan to go to church together, where Ralph will be reminded of her name one last time — when the preacher says, "Will you, Vanita, take this man ..."

All Ralph's got to remember now is "I do" — and his anniversary.

  • Melissa McNamara

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