If you want to see a real Valentines Day story tonight, tilt your head and squint your eyes and take a look just below the north Palestra rafters. On a creaky concourse, smack between flashing and beeping television and radio gadgets and the young people that operate them, a white-haired married couple sit beside a General Indicator Corporation typewriter that could very well be as old as they are. Dotty types a list of sponsors with two fingers, one at a time, onto the Palestra's message board, which is on the bottom of the scoreboard. Bob, although he reluctantly retired last year from being the Palestra's official scorekeeper, sits by her side. They've been married for the last 50 years. They've been at the Palestra even longer. Tonight, that's where they'll be, too, even if it is Valentines Day. "We're not doing anything special," Bob said, turning to his wife. "Unless you've planned something special. Did you, dear?" "I won't tell," Dotty responded with a chuckle. Don't be fooled, they're not unromantic. It's just that they've been through this holiday for the last 65 years -- how much chocolate, candy hearts and red roses can two people take? They first met in Mrs. White's first grade class at John Bartram Elementary School. Sparks flew, and they kept flying all the way through high school (they both attended John Bartram High, where they dated on and off.) After high school, they became more serious. Bob went to Penn and Dotty worked at the Western Exterminating Company on 39th and Baltimore. Every day, Bob would leave his Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house and meet Dotty outside her office at 5 p.m. Then, they'd take the No. 11 trolley back to their homes in southwest Philadelphia. The two never even dated anyone else after high school, Bob says, beaming with pride. Actually... "Well, yeah I did," Dotty said, hiding her head. Bob looked at her. "That I didn't know about." Still, Bob always knew he'd marry his high school -- uh, first-grade -- sweetheart. "I never proposed," he says, "I took it for granted." Their first home together was a third-floor apartment on 36th and Locust, which was in a perfect location -- directly across from the original Smokey Joe's. "We'd stop in for a hamburger and a beverage," Bob said with a mischievous grin. "We were at age at that time," Dotty chirped in. Bob also always knew that he'd never leave the Palestra. Who'd want to? While he was a student, he kept stats for Penn's Sports Information Department. After graduating from the University in 1953, Bob, an English major, became the Palestra's official scorekeeper, the man in charge of keeping track of fouls, timeouts and, of course, the score. He was good at it, too. "The one thing about Bob is that he's extremely accurate," legendary Palestra announcer John McAdams said. "He knows what he's doing and understands the rules of the game." Dotty would sit a few rows behind him sometimes during the games, but never worked there. She had their four kids to take care of. Then, the operation in 1984. "Mom used to have to stay home until Dad had an artery blowout," said their son, Bruce, who took his father's job as scorekeeper this year. "The artery has three layers. Two collapsed and circulated the blood away from the heart." Bob had to be flown to Texas for an operation, one of the few times he's ever left Philadelphia. He turned out fine, but lost peripheral vision in both eyes. After that Dotty had to drive her husband to all the games. Three years after that, someone asked her if she could type. The rest is history. "Not too many married couples end up at the same place -- at least without killing each other," McAdams said. "They both have Penn's interest at heart. They're all for the U. of P." The two also work at Franklin Field -- Bob is the press box announcer for Penn football games, Dotty works the message board for football and Penn Relays. But there's just something about college basketball's most historic gym that they love. That's why Bob sits right beside his wife, even now when he no longer works there. That's why there's no other place they'd rather be on Valentines Day. The two things they have always had in their life: each other and the Palestra. "The [marriage] ceremony didn't take place here," Bob said, looking down at fans streaming into the gym, "but we've made up for it through the years."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.