Beacon lit the path for their lasting love
By CAITLIN DAVIS, Senior staff writer
Mar 4, 2014, 14:23
HOPEWELL — The love story of Felix and Pauline LoCicero spans more than six decades and is worthy of being on the big screen.
The love the two share began at the concession stand at the Beacon Theatre in 1946 and while it was not love at first sight, as admitted by both husband and wife, it was a love that grew stronger with each passing day and a love that still shines brightly 67 years after that fateful night in the historic theatre.
Felix was a soldier stationed at Fort Lee after being transferred from Georgia. On that night in 1946, he and his friend were told to “take a right” and go into the city of Hopewell, a city described as being a nice, clean town. Upon arrival, the two men quickly realized there were not many activities in which to participate.
The lights of the Beacon Theatre drew the two servicemen to the ticket booth, and once their tickets were purchased for the show, they decided on a stop at the concession stand, where Felix and Pauline’s love story would begin.
“I came to the concession stand and she was working at the concession stand, and she looked up at me and asked me, ‘Can I help you?’ Felix said, looking longingly over at his bride. “This was the most beautiful, kindest face I’d ever seen, the most beautiful smile.”
After the movie credits ran, Felix walked Pauline, along with her cousin, to her home on North 7th Street and from there began a courtship and never looked back.
“I was just being friendly and nice with him too,” Pauline said, recalling that night at the Beacon. “He looked like a very nice young man, very neat, very clean and I just liked him from the very beginning.”
Even though their love has endured for many years, it was not a love that began as their eyes met across the counter at the concession stand. Both admit it was not love at first sight, but it was a love that did not take long to blossom into marriage.
“I was real, real interested in her,” Felix said of that first night. “The more I saw her, the more I fell in love with her. It didn’t take long.”
The couple’s first date was also at the Beacon Theatre, though neither can quite remember which movie was playing on the screen. But when they say this and look into each other’s eyes, it is evident that it never mattered.
For a year, the couple began dating, going out to dinner, to the movies and sharing memories, such as playing in the snow, as Pauline loved the snow.
Pauline was still in high school, working at the theater on Saturdays and Sundays, and Felix was still in the service. Shortly after they met, Felix was transferred to Fort Pickett in Blackstone, noting it was hard courting her from miles away. However, the miles never stood between the two, as Felix would catch a bus to come see her in Hopewell.
Felix even recalls one night when he fell asleep at the bus terminal in Petersburg, missing his bus, the only bus that could take him back. He began walking and sticking out his thumb to get back to base.
There were many long nights traveling back and forth by bus before he proposed.
“I bought her an engagement ring in Petersburg and I came down to give it to her and her father was sitting out in the front yard and I sat with him and chatted for a few seconds,” Felix said. “I said, ‘Do you mind if I give this ring to Pauline,’ he said no, he didn’t even hesitate. We were engaged and she graduated from high school and we got married.”
Their wedding was very small, with fewer than 10 people, and was held at the once 15th Street Methodist Parsonage in Hopewell. The couple got married on Pauline’s birthday, June 7, 1947.
Back in the 1940s, to be married, the man had to be 21 years old, Felix was 20. His mother came up from Florida to sign for him to get married.
Now 66 years later, and having two daughters, two sons-in-law and two grandchildren, Felix and Pauline are still very much in love. There is no magic formula to their success, no hidden secrets, just deep love and adoration for the other.
“Be honest with one another, help one another, have respect for each other,” Felix said of how he has made their marriage last. While listing off how to have a successful marriage, he leaned over to his blushing bride to ask her if he was telling it right. She assured him if he wasn’t, she would make sure to tell him. They both erupted in laughter, making it evident keeping their love strong is not difficult.
“We share everything,” Felix said.
“If he’s got a dollar, that means I’ve got a dollar,” Pauline said.
Even though they have walked away from the altar 66 years ago, the couple still goes on dates. Felix and Pauline like to attend antique car shows, go dancing at the community center in Colonial Heights and Dinwiddie and they are also members of a ballroom dancing club out of Richmond.
“We can barely walk, but we still dance,” Felix said.
Sitting in the newly renovated Beacon Theatre auditorium, Felix and Pauline look around at where their love began, noting the theater did look a bit different from the 1940s, but was beautiful nonetheless. The concession stand where the couple first laid eyes on each other has been moved and the seats are not the same color, but regardless, the couple was able to capture the magic from those almost 70 years ago.
“I met the most beautiful girl in the world right here,” Felix said, holding his wife’s hand. “She was a kind person and she still is, and still beautiful, and I still love her … and she’s followed me around through a lot of adventures that I’ve done in my life and she was there for me. She’s not only my wife, she’s my sweetheart and she’s my friend too.”
“He’s very thoughtful and kind and he does so much for me, especially since I’m disabled a little bit and he’s just a kind person,” Pauline said. “And I love him very deeply too.”