Is there love in Valentine, Texas?

Gary gets his annual haircut (Source: KWES)
Gary gets his annual haircut (Source: KWES)
Dale Evans and Mable Evans wedding rings (Source: KWES)
Dale Evans and Mable Evans wedding rings (Source: KWES)
Kirby and Anita Flippen have a laugh. (Source: KWES)
Kirby and Anita Flippen have a laugh. (Source: KWES)
Larry and Irma Porras (Source: KWES)
Larry and Irma Porras (Source: KWES)

VALENTINE, TX (KWES) - If you blink, you'll miss it. It's the small City of Valentine, Texas. With a town named after the love holiday, there's the question, is there love in Valentine, Texas?

It doesn't take much to find it. The first stop is Highway Cafe. They haven't been in business in decades and it's not open. Well, only when Victor and Gloria aren't there.

Their sign on the door reads, "When we're here, OPEN. When we're not here, CLOSED."

"I wouldn't say it's a ghost town," said Gloria Sanchez. "Because we're in it. We're not ghosts." "Not yet anyhow," said Victor.

Gloria was a barber for 30 years in Midland, which is where she met Victor.

"I fell in love with him when he took me fishing," said Gloria. "He's like where have you been all my life?"

"She fell in love with the place, I've been very lucky," said Victor. "I haven't met a woman that loves the desert out here."

Gloria and Victor bought a 100-year-old home-turned-bar after his family. Although it's worn down and a little deteriorated, it's definitely not abandoned. Because when Victor and Gloria are there, it comes alive for anyone passing through.

Then there's Lisa and Gary Morton. They're two Valentine High School sweethearts who met in Valentine when they were only teens and they've been married for 38 years.

"First day of school was Valentine's Day and this guy was in one of the classrooms," said Lisa. "We ended up getting married and raising three children here."

Every Valentine's Day is a little special. Because a few days before is Gary's birthday and it becomes a yearly tradition when he goes in for his once-a-year haircut.

"He grows it all year, he says, 'No, I'm not shaving it anymore, it's time for the winter beard,'" said Lisa.

Which is why Lisa gets the biggest kick out of it.

"It's the thrill of my year, to see him once again," said Lisa.

If you drive over the tracks in Valentine, you'll find the school. It's so small, Irma Porras teaches both 1st and 2nd grade. Her husband, Larry John, is a former police officer who also worked on the school board.

"I feel I walked across Texas with him," said Irma. "We really are opposites, and opposites attract so there must be some truth to that."

Both met at Sul Ross University their freshman year in 1971 and dated on and off. Five years later, they were married. After living across Texas, they finally settled down in little Valentine and have stayed married for 42 years.

"It's been an adventure," said Irma. "After so long, you just grow into each other," said Irma.  "I'm sure I've adapted into his ways and he's adapted a lot of mine. It's worked, I hope we passed the best of us to our kids. Life is good and continues to be good. We are grateful for all our blessings."

Then there's Dale Evans. After his first wife of 42 years passed away from heart failure, along came Mable, whom he met online. The first time they met in person, he says was love at first sight.

"Magic, just pure magic," said Dale.

He and Mable moved to Valentine on Valentine's Day and traveled the country often in her red Honda with stickers to show where they've traveled. It now sits outside his home, untouched.

But after being diagnosed with lymphoma, Mable lost her battle in 2013. Since then, not a day goes by when Dale doesn't think about her.

"Everyday. Everyday," he said. "I'm a romantic, I already gave instructions, when I go, get my ashes back, take hers and mesh them together and dump us."

Because for Dale, even though she's gone, he knows that Mable is his match made in heaven.

"I've never been afraid to die and I truly believe there's another life," he said. "My big problem is, I got two waiting. I can just see them at the pearly gates, 'Dale, come here, we've been talking about you.' Whatever happens, happens."

On Valentines Day, Anita and Kirby Flippen will be celebrating their 9th anniversary.

"What is it you love about me?" asked Anita. "She can do everything I can. Like drive," said Kirby.

Kirby is a truck driver, which is how he met Anita.

"I moved out here, he moved out here, so this town's not that big," said Anita.

But in a town that's not that big, every couple holds an even bigger story and knowing the key to a happy marriage.

"Communication is number one," said Victor. "Get along with each other, respect each other."

"That's simple, remember you love them," said Dale. "Don't fight over the little stuff."

"Always say 'yes.' Just agree with her," said Gary.

"She's a great wife, and he's a great husband," said the Porras. "That's the secret. We were made for each other."

Chuy Calderon, the former Valentine mayor of 41 years, married his wife Viola in 1973 in Valentine but recently moved to New Braunfels. They just celebrated their 45th anniversary. Both were always active in the Valentine community, working as teachers, coaches and religious youth ministers. Although they've left West Texas, they loved the people, serenity and scenery.

"We are always able to work out our differences and never go to bed without working out our problems and kissing each other goodnight," said Viola. "We always pray together and bless each other."

But here in Valentine, these couples show that love still lingers in the air. Since home is where the heart is, Valentine, Texas is where they find it.

"At the very end, Valentine will always be here," said Larry. "We'll always come back to Valentine. This is home and it'll always be home."

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