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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

After 65 Years of Waiting, They Reunited and Gave It a Second Chance

Photo by Patricia Stimmel

(This article is about my grandmother’s love story. When I first heard about her long lost beau I was touched and wanted to share it with the WIS community)

William Morley, who goes by Bill, thought about his past lover Joan at moments. He thinks of her randomly and occasionally, while he waited for her for 65 years.

Bill only loved one person in his life, Joan Undeland. He still loves her, saying “She was so bright, so full of ideas, and so very pretty” to whom no one else could compare. He let her go to another man in 1953 because he was worried for their forthcoming, but he didn’t ever marry or have kids, hoping to reunite with her in the future. Joan was shocked and flattered after hearing this.

The Beginnings of their Relationship

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They met in spring vacation of college in Los Angeles County, California in 1951 at Corona del Mar. She and a group of girls made a deal with a group of boys, including Bill, that if they would dive for abalone, the girls would cook it. One day, Joan and Bill were isolated on the front porch and naturally sprung into a conversation that lasted hours, which began the start of their relationship.  

After their encounter, they saw each other every weekend, with him in graduate school at UCLA and her a sophomore at Pomona College. Bill describes their dates as crazy and he has scars to prove it. Once they were at a mountain lake resort near Los Angeles and Claremont. They were sledding down a hill, with him in the front and her on top. Unfortunately, there was a bump in their path and he hit the front of the sled, resulting in a lasting scar.

Joan describes their dates as pure. They would just talk at her house with some hamburgers and fries. They had on an open relationship, with her dating three other guys, but he only dated her. At the time Bill didn’t know that she was dating other people. She only dated because Bill not being around enough and her dates had similar interests. Once she dated a write in a newspaper company when she was interested in journalism.

The Falling Out

Bill began to seem uncommitted to Joan after he was drafted into the army. Bill confesses that in the 1950s, people weren’t expressive about their emotions. More than 60 years later, Bill still remembers that he never said that he loved her. Joan also realized this, stating that he changed. “He was so hesitant, that I didn’t think that he was in love with me. Even though he was driving 40 miles from his military base to my flat in San Francisco every weekend to meet me,” Joan said.

At the same time, she was dating another man, Richard Undeland. She confessed that their dates were so much fun. At one of their dates, Joan tested him on his general knowledge. She took him to watch “Julius Caesar”, and then to a bar where people would request waiters to sing operas. On the contrary of Joan’s impression, Richard expressed his knowledge of Italian operas and the history of Julius Caesar.

They dated for a few months before Richard Undeland, not thinking much of Bill, proposed to Joan. She accepted but immediately told Bill. However, he was still hesitant about his emotions. She admitted, “I just didn’t think there was anything there, there was no future, so I broke it off and married Dick.”Richard and Joan were engaged in May and married in August 1954.

Joan Undeland at her wedding in 1954

Her married life “was so ironic,” Joan stated while chuckling. Bill broke off their relationship because he was afraid he wouldn’t support her, but in reality, he had a much more stable job than Richard. In fact, Joan had to take on three jobs for them to have enough money for food. They would only eat meat twice a week and didn’t even have a refrigerator.  She laughed realizing that “I married someone else and ended up supporting him.”

Bill wrote to her once when he was visiting Egypt and she was in Tunisia. However, she didn’t reply because she miscarried at the time and wasn’t stable enough to meet with anyone. It wasn’t until sixty years later, after he saw the obituary of Richard, that they got back in touch with each other through a college reunion. Joan was shocked because she did love this guy and now there is another chance.

65 Years Later

Both are at retirement and 2,700 miles away from each other, Bill in Santa Barbara, and Joan in Virginia. They both have different ways of showing their love. Bill would send new kinds of fruit every month, properly wrapped with flowers and a little note. In return, Joan would send tiny little gifts that only the two of them could understand. In addition to this, they would have their “ritual Saturdays.” where they would call each other and talk for hours straight. Joan’s son Charles, admits “It happens all the time, Saturdays are off limits, and there is no flexibility.”

The pair celebrating Joan’s grandson’s birthday (Photo by Asyl Undeland)

When Joan went to visit Bill in Santa Barbara, they only talked, for days. She explained the reason she broke up with him. Bill made clear that he didn’t explain his feelings because he didn’t want to burden her to work while he would get a Ph.D. in psychology. “Bill is very old-fashioned,” Joan admitted, “He believed the man should be the one providing.”

Her kids were shocked when they found out the news. Charles Undeland, Joan’s younger son, recalls, “My brother and I were eating dinner, and suddenly she goes, ‘Well my old beau has tracked me down and invited me to California for ten days and this was the first time we heard of Bill… and she went.”

They had minimal contact before this trip but Joan was amazed because this was unpredicted and she had another chance to see Bill again. Her kids had the same reaction, startled that she had such a lover before their father and were excited for her to meet with him again.  

Bill agrees that it was a different kind of situation, meeting after 65 years because they got to know each other again. They dated in college, but now they were different people. They talked about their lives and were more honest with each other than they had ever been. This truthful relationship came because the times have changed, and nowadays people are more open to each other. They would talk about their lives, as well as what it would have been like if they have gotten together in the first place.  

Both their families support this completely, sending them off in the airport to New York, the pair in wheelchairs, but hand in hand, off to their excursion. While laughing, Charles said “We were eating hamburgers at Red Robin, and talking about how great it is that Bill is there, and how it’s nice to have companionship at this age, and while she (Joan) takes a bite she goes ‘No huh, it’s love.’”   

By: Daria Undeland


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