Entered for show on March 10, 2012 in Castro Valley
HOW WE FIRST MET:True Love, Lost and Found
In 1947 Jerome Blaha entered Kindergarten at Redwood School in Castro Valley. It wasn’t until 4th grade that Melanie Melewicz arrived in Castro Valley and entered Miss Parish’s 4th grade class – one week late. Jerome remembers how beautiful Melanie was and how Miss Parish introduced her to the class and led her by the hand to her seat – located only two rows to the left of Jerome’s desk!
Immediately enamored, Jerome did all he could to be near Melanie, but could not tell anyone that he was in love – because it wasn’t appropriate for an 8 year old to love a girl when boys were supposed to tease them. In time, Jerome came to admire her grace and intelligence as the smartest girl in the class, one who also won all the art and writing contests.
Melanie, on the other hand, only recalls Jerome as “different”. Her clearest memory recalls a time Jerome was riding his bicycle home from school and turned his head to look at Melanie walking home with her girlfriends. Unfortunately he crashed into a telephone pole and fell off his bike.
In sixth grade, Jerome was traumatized when Melanie announced to the class that she was moving. Her father, a Commander in the US Navy, was being transferred to Newfoundland.
For the next 17 years encompassing school, 4 years in the Marine Corps and college (UCB) and law school, Jerome looked for “the love of his life”, but never found one to match Melanie. For the next 17 years Melanie lived in many states and countries and finished college with a masters degree in English, but never approved of any suitors or accepted any marriage proposals because no one was the “right person”.
Then, in February 1971, Jerome attended a Castro Valley High School reunion committee meeting where Shirley Lewis (one of Melanie’s 4th grade girlfriends) asked Jerome if he knew who was back in town? “Who?” (reply- “Melanie Melewicz. My mom and Melanie’s mom have kept contact over the years”) Stunned, Jerome asked “Is she married?” (reply- “No”) “Do you have her telephone number?” (reply -“Yes”) “Can I have it?” (reply- “Yes”)
Immediately, Jerome called Melanie. He introduced himself, and asked: “Are you married?” (reply- “No”) “Would you like to go out for a date?” (reply- “No”) “How about a year from now?” (reply- “OK) “How about next month?” (reply- “that’s possible”) “How about tomorrow?” (reply- “well, OK”)
When he arrived for their first date, Jerome could not believe that Melanie was living only six blocks up the street from his place located next to Hastings College of the Law.
Seventeen years later, on February 14, 1971, when Melanie opened her apartment door for their first date, Jerome was stunned by her beauty. She looked exactly the same as she did when she left Redwood School and Castro Valley in the 6th grade.
Melanie again observed Jerome as “different” as he was in grade school. This time he sported a well-kempt full beard and 60’s garb. “What have you done for the last 17 years?” was the topic of discussion over dinner at Benihana’s in San Francisco. That led to Melanie accepting a second date with Jerome, for a San Francisco Symphony concert. On the drive to the Opera House, Melanie glanced over at Jerome. His face was glowing red in the reflection of a stop light, when she heard a voice inside her saying loud and clear: “That’s the man I am going to marry.” This time, it was she who was stunned.
On April 6, 1971 after almost daily contacts, adventures, morning jogs on the beach and many dates, Jerome asked Melanie to marry him. Playing hard to get, Melanie held off saying “yes” until the following day.
They exchanged marriage vows on September 19, 1971 at All Saints Church in Hayward followed by a do-it-yourself (with help of family and friends) reception in the Meek Mansion. After bearing 2 fantastic children, Jerome Jr and Jennifer, Jerome and Melanie have continued re-meeting and renewing their marital vows again after 10 years, 20 years, 30 years and 40 years of marriage.
Jerome and Melanie give thanks to the Lord for all His blessings – for “How We First Met, How We Re-met, and for Our Marriage, Our Lives Together, and Our Children, Parents, and very first Grandchild born January 22, 2012.”