SOLANA BEACH — Many people believe that when it comes to romance, opposites attract. But Jim and Jane King have found the opposite to be true.
The Solana Beach couple, who will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary on April 29, include comparable backgrounds and common interests among the keys to their successful marriage.
“Both of our family backgrounds were similar,” Jim said. “We were raised in the Great Depression and our families were hard workers. We sure weren’t raised in any affluency or anything like that.
“Her family used to go camping and she loved fishing,” he added. “Same with ours so we just had kind of a lot in common.”
Jim has lived in Solana Beach all his life and Jane is a native Encinitan. They were familiar with one another when she was a freshman and he was a senior at San Dieguito High School, now called San Dieguito Academy.
“When we were there everybody knew everybody in every class,” said Jim, who counted Jane’s siblings among his friends.
“Well, I knew who he was but he didn’t know who I was,” Jane said. “He was a popular upperclassman.”
It wasn’t until several years later, when Jane was in college, that the two started dating.
“I was at La Paloma Theater with my brother,” she said. “I was sitting in one area and I saw him walk down another aisle and I guess he saw me.”
“I had been conned into being in a little play in Rancho Santa Fe with the Rancho Santa Fe Strollers,” Jim said. “They were desperate I guess so they invited me to come be in the play.
“So I called her after seeing her at the theater and asked her if she’d like to come to the play with me,” he added. “She accepted. That was our first date in 1950.”
Jim said he knew — “but she didn’t” — that they were meant to be together. So about six months later, on the way to a football game in Oceanside, he proposed and “fortunately she accepted.”
“I don’t remember that,” Jane said. “But I wasn’t shocked. I knew I loved him a lot.”
Jane and Jim were married six months after that at La Jolla Presbyterian Church. About 75 people attended the ceremony, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at their wedding photos, Jane said.
“The wedding day was daylight saving time and a lot of people came late because they forgot to set their clocks,” she said. “So there’s hardly anybody in the front pews. Some people arrived as we were coming out of the church.”
The reception was held at the old Del Mar Hotel.
The Kings bought the one-story home where they still live in August 1954 when the first of their three children was 10 months old.
Jane, whose family founded her mother’s eponymous Flower’s by Adelaide in La Jolla, was a stay-at-home mom who also served on the children’s hospital auxiliary board, teaching youngsters to create with their hands.
“She’s very artistic,” Jim said.
He served in the U.S. Navy for two years and with his family owned a Culligan water treatment franchise for 40 years. He also served on the Santa Fe Water District board of directors for more than a decade and was a Solana Beach Elementary School trustee for 19 years.
Jane said the most challenging time in their marriage was when she finally quit smoking after 19 years.
“I’m surprised he stayed with me because he hated cigarette smoke,” she said. “He told me once the hardest time was when I quit smoking because I was irritable and quick to tears. I was hard to live with probably.”
“I don’t remember that,” Jim said.
“I tried to quit lots of times,” she continued. “One time there was a present on my dinner plate and the kids said, ‘How come mom got a present?’
“And he said, ‘That’s because mom quit smoking.’ I knew I couldn’t go back on it then,” Jane said. “I was done. He knew what he was doing. I never picked up another cigarette again.”
The Kings have a few other secrets that have contributed to their long and successful marriage.
“Do it right the first time,” Jane said. “Tell each other you love each other before you go to sleep at night. And don’t ever start smoking again.”
“Let the little things go by and then they don’t become big problems,” Jim added. “Bite your tongue.”
He also credits their happy marriage for helping them maintain their youthfulness. At 89 and 86, and after 65 years of togetherness, Jim and Jane still talk about one another as if they are still newlyweds.
“He’s always very helpful and takes me out to dinner all the time,” Jane said. “He’s the perfect one.”
“She’s pretty adorable,” Jim said. “I count my blessings. I’m the luckiest person that I’ve ever heard of.”