- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (AP) - Irene Moore still blushes when she hears her husband tell how the couple met in front of her family’s home on East Minnesota Street.

She was 13. He was nearly 16. It was during the Great Depression and Gene Moore was riding his bike through the neighborhood with a friend.

“All of sudden, this girl comes off the porch and started talking to him,” Gene, now 95, said. “I was like, ‘Who is that young lady?’ That was it.”

Gene insists Irene never has said what she saw in him. But the two were married in 1942 and celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary on July 26. Their common interest throughout that time has been sports. They still bowl regularly in a Thursday afternoon 10-pin league at Western Bowl on West Washington Street.

That shared interest has helped keep their love alive after nearly three-quarters of a century.

“We’ve always been active,” Irene, 92, said.

Both still drive, although Gene handles most of it. They still live in a Southside house they had built more than 50 years ago. A Decatur Township firefighter helps with the upkeep. They can’t imagine life without each other.

“I love her,” Gene said. “I don’t sleep some nights wondering, ‘If I go first, what would she do?’ because I do everything at home. And I don’t know what I would do without her.”

They grew up a few blocks apart, not too far from Fountain Square, but in different worlds. Irene says the Great Depression didn’t affect her family much. Her father kept his job making eye-glass lenses at a shop on Monument Circle.

But Gene’s father was disabled after being injured during World War I. The family lost its home and savings because of the stock market crash in 1929. Family members killed rabbit and opossum for food. Gene isn’t proud of it now, but he remembers stealing milk left by deliverymen on neighbors’ porches.

“Just a horrible life,” he said. “The one person that really saved us was President Roosevelt and social security. We didn’t have a dime.”

It’s hard to believe now because he’s quick with a story and did almost all of the talking during a recent interview with Irene by his side, but Gene didn’t have much confidence because of that background.

“Can you imagine him being shy?” Irene said while rolling her eyes.

He didn’t go out for sports at Manual High School. He said a Brooklyn Dodgers scout spotted him as a 17-year-old playing baseball at Garfield Park and invited him to a Dodgers tryout camp in Wisconsin. Gene took a train there, but was so intimidated he hopped on the next train and returned to Indianapolis.

“Worst mistake off my life,” he said.

But shyness didn’t stop him from pursuing the girl on Minnesota Street. He remembers even getting into a fight or two with other boys who were pursuing Irene. Turned out she had an eye for him, too.

“I tell you what turned the tide,” he said. “She gave me a kiss. It was the best kiss of my life. I went home and practiced kissing in the mirror.”

The two dated for almost five years. He was drafted not long after they were married and served stateside, training military personnel to use firearms at a training base near Galveston, Texas. She accompanied him. The two returned to Indianapolis after World War II and have been here since.

By this time, Gene was getting over his shyness. During that era, it wasn’t unusual for companies to have their own baseball teams and he got a series of jobs over the years because of his baseball prowess.

“He was a natural athlete in everything he did,” said Mike Krutschevski, a retired air-traffic controller, local standout bowler and friend of Gene’s since 1963.

But that wasn’t the only sport Gene tried. He tried boxing, although he realized quickly getting punched in the nose wasn’t for him. He got back into bowling, which he originally took up as a teenager while setting pins at the old Fountain Square Bowling Alley. In his 40s, he took up golf and became a scratch player. Others apparently marveled at how his ball never seemed to slice.

“One guy I knew said, ‘I don’t want to live forever, I just want to live long enough to see Gene Moore miss a fairway,’ ” Gene said.

Irene was plenty active herself. She had been a standout tennis player at Manual. She raised two boys. She was the head of payroll for more than 30 years at the Dow Chemical office in Indianapolis before retiring.

She shared her husband’s passion for golf and bowling. Even though they usually played in separate leagues, they often were found cheering for the other. Gene bowled in several travel leagues and quickly became known as one of the area’s best.

“Everything we did, we did together,” Gene said. “We didn’t run around in groups.”

That brings us to today. Gene’s honors continue to roll in. He has bowled several unsanctioned 300 games, but rolled his first sanctioned 300 in 2006. He was inducted into the Indianapolis Bowling Hall of Fame in 2005. He worries that his game might be slipping, but captains of local traveling teams assure him he will always have a spot in their leagues.

Irene had to sit out last week because of a sore knee, but she still bowls when she can. The two were longtime Indianapolis Colts season ticket holders before giving up their tickets when the walk from a parking spot to the stadium became too taxing. They remain rabid Indiana Pacers fans. They apologized for being a little sleepy during an interview last week because they stayed up late watching the Pacers’ season-ending loss at Memphis the previous night.

“We live and die on every basket,” Gene said.

They both say the camaraderie they get from bowling keeps them coming back. The love they’ve experienced since meeting on Minnesota Street has never left.

“Share and share alike,” Gene said when asked for the secret of a long, happy marriage. “You’re not always right and you’re not always wrong. You’ve got to give in once in a while.”

Irene looked at him with a smirk on her face. It was look only a trusted partner can give.

“You haven’t done that too much,” she said.

The two laughed. Gene had another game to bowl.

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Source: The Indianapolis Star, https://indy.st/1PopgbT

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com


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