Two teenagers who were high school sweethearts in the 1950s broke up after a few years and didn’t see each other until a little over a year ago. Now, Caroline Reeves and Eddie Lamm are newlyweds — sharing a love that is blossoming 63 years after they first met.
“We feel young again,” said Reeves, who turns 82 on Thursday.
“When you’re in your 80s, you don’t have to grow old,” she said. “We keep our minds going and we’re active and we have fun and laugh and tease and cut up and just want to just live as long — the best life we can live.”
Back in 1956, Elvis was on the jukebox and President Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House — while Reeves and Lamm were in love.
“Once I saw her, it was all over,” said Lamm, who is now 85.
Reeves thought he was the cutest boy on campus.
The only meal he ever bought her back then was french fries and Coke — but it wasn’t a fancy dinner she was looking for. She had her eyes on a high school class ring and all that it would signify.
“It was an engagement ring,” she said. “And I was the type of person that would have committed myself to him for the rest of my life with that ring.”
But she didn’t get the ring — at least not then.
Lamm had set his sights high, joining ROTC at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with dreams of flying planes in the U.S. Air Force. It was Reeves’ senior year in high school and he couldn’t find the words to say a proper goodbye, so he didn’t.
“We pulled up in her driveway and I said,’ May I kiss you?’ And so I kissed her, goodnight, then, not knowing that that’s the last time I would kiss her in 64 or 65 years.”
Reeves said he didn’t follow up with, “Could I take you out? Could we go to a movie? Can I see you again before I leave?”
“I opened that car door and I got out of that car and ran up the steps and slammed the door and went upstairs and cried all night,” she said. “That was it.”
Their lives then followed far different paths. She became Miss Nashville 1959. Two years later, in 1961, they got married to other people. Reeves married Charles Wallace and Lamm married Polly Piper.
Lamm went on to serve 21 years flying KC-135s in the U.S. Air Force. Reeves traveled the world, was an interior designer, has been a magazine writer and wrote three novels.
In December of 2021, Lamm’s wife, Polly, the mother of their two sons, died from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. They’d been married two days shy of 60 years, and in Polly’s final years, Lamm was her caretaker.
“It just shows you his strength and how sweet and kind and gentle this man is and always has been,” Reeves said.
After Reeves’ marriage to Wallace ended in the 1980s, she married a man named George Kennedy, who died in 2001.
Reeves said she wondered “all the time” over the course of her life how Lamm was, and Lamm said he wondered, too, how Reeves was doing.
In April 2022, Lamm was living in California and Reeves was in Nashville.
“All at once something hits me. I said, ‘I’ve got to call her,'” Lamm said.
He tried nine times before finally reaching her.
“After the second day, it was comfortable. It was natural. By the third day, that third night, he told me he still loved me. And I knew my life had changed. And then the next morning, he calls and he says, ‘I apologize for being so forward last night.'”
But his confession of love was what Reeves wanted to hear, and he flew to Nashville to see her.
This time, she was in the driver’s seat. When she went to pick him up, they didn’t get too far from the airport — at first.
“He peeked his head into my car and I just — he took my breath away,” Reeves said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life. I just can’t even explain it. So I got out of the parking lot, zoom, zoom, zoom, went around and found the FedEx parking lot. And it was the warehouse. It was closed at night and they had all these security lights. And I got out and jumped around and we hugged and kissed … and I remember looking up at the security lights and insects were swirling all around.”
“So, FedEx does deliver,” she said, to a burst of laughter.
After Lamm arrived in Nashville, he waited five days before asking her to move with him to California. Three months later, at the age of 84, he popped the question.
He had planned to give her his mother’s ring, but Reeves said it was too precious and should be saved for one of his grandchildren. Instead, she wanted his high school class ring, and he put it on her finger.
She called it “miraculous” that they found their love again.
“And we asked God all the time, ‘why did you do this?’ And now we know: to take care of each other,” she said.