Dick Lutz was 16 years old and working as a lifeguard at a community pool when he saw a beautiful young girl swimming right under his perch.
“I saw a mermaid. I mean a beautiful little mermaid,” Dick said, walking out of the kitchen in the couple's Oklahoma City home.
“Here's where the crap comes in,” quipped Edna Lutz, Dick's wife of 71 years, as he playfully rumpled her soft white hair.
Edna was 14 when Dick first laid eyes on her. She didn't even know he existed then.
Two years later, Dick was dating a girl named Louise, and it turned out that Louise and Edna were best friends. When Louise and her family moved away, she told Edna to hang on to Dick — he was a good dancer and a keeper.
“No money,” Edna teased. But nobody had any money back then, Dick said. It was the Great Depression.
“Take care of him and I'll be back, and we'll get married,” Louise told Edna.
“Edna looked after me so well that we got married,” Dick said, reaching across the distance between their two chairs to gently squeeze Edna's hand.
Dick is now 90, and Edna is 88. They have lived in the home they built for more than 50 years. When first built in 1950, their home was in the middle of a wheat field.
“We were the first people to live between 16th and 23rd and Portland and Meridian,” Dick said.
The Lutzes seem to have found the secrets to longevity in life and love.
“We've had a perfect life,” Dick said. “She's my angel. I have to make sure I tell her that she's my angel every day.”
“He does,” Edna said. He also teases her mercilessly, but she loves it and dishes it right back to him.
Dick and Edna have spent their long lives together dancing, laughing, traveling and watching their three children have children and their grandchildren have children.
For most of their lives, Edna took care of Dick and their children while he worked hard (“I'm a workaholic,” he said).
But these days, Dick takes care of Edna. Two years ago, she developed a form of dementia caused by anesthesia during a surgery. Doctors told her the dementia will one day evolve into full-blown Alzheimer's.
But that doesn't seem to get Edna down. No, she can't do some of the things she used to. But doctors told Dick to keep her busy, and that's what he does.
The couple have volunteered as ushers at the Civic Center Music Hall for 23 years, never missing a show.
Dick gets up early every morning so that when Edna wakes, she'll have a hot breakfast waiting for her.
“I was a good cook before, but I can't cook, and he had to take over,” Edna said.
They had hamburgers the night before.
“I got everything ready for her, and she fried them,” Dick said.
Their life together started when Dick and Edna secretly got married when she was 16 and he was 18.
“When you're 18 you don't think. When you're 16, you don't think less,” Dick said.
They kept their marriage a secret from their parents partly because they were afraid their parents wouldn't approve but mostly because Edna knew that her mother needed her help — she was a single mother dealing with diabetes, a full-time job and had twin toddlers.