Harley was just back from his Royal Aires tour in Sweden, so he spoke at Crusade. Crusade was the name of the youth outreach group that Wally had started. Betty played the piano and accompanied Harley as he sang a solo that first night (March 24, 1951).
He needed a place to spend the night before returning to Rochester, New York, where he lived, so Wally invited him to overnight with the Duncans. He stayed two more nights.
Harley asked Betty first. He had it all planned, even checking that the moon would be full. Sunday night after church, they went for a drive around Crystal Lake in New Hampshire. Then, where the road runs right down to the water, he parked and presented her with the eloquent invitation to marriage that he had memorized. A full moon shone off the lake. Everything was perfect.
Betty asked him to repeat himself. She couldn’t believe what she’d heard.
Harley was in the middle of saying it all again when a police car pulled up. Four cops piled out of the squad car and surrounded Harley’s vehicle to tell him he couldn’t park down there.
“Wait a minute,” Harley said. “I just asked her to marry me.”
Just then the radio in squad car went off. The police had to answer the call, so they left one guy to find out what happened. Harley had to drive him back to the station.
Meanwhile, Betty said they were Christians and this was a surprise and she had to pray about it. Harley took her home. She and Mother (Virginia) knelt down by her bed and prayed about it.
Three weeks later, Betty went to Rochester and together they drove to Binghamton where Bob Damen was performing. The only place they could find to be alone was a graveyard, so Betty said “yes” to Harley in a graveyard.
Harley asked Daddy (Taylor) second. According to Betty, Daddy had loved Harley from beginning. When Harley asked to speak with him, Daddy took him back into his study and shut the door.story as recalled by Betty and Harley Smith (Betty’s husband) in a conversation with Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), November 13, 2013
Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).
- Harley and Betty told me this story on a bad Skype connection and Harley isn’t in the position to check my work. What about the ring? Do you have details to add or correct? Please do!
- Anybody else have a proposal story they want to tell about one of the eight? Let’s hear it!
- Are Lorraine Hughey and Bob Damen in the wedding party photo?
- Anybody have a photo of Betty accompanying Harley on the piano that you’d like to share?