By Lori Boruff
The real-life love story of Dave and Jo Lawson looks like a Hallmark movie. The divinely written script weaves war, romance, tragedy and happy endings together for an enchanted story of destiny and unending love.
It begins during war time when Germany invades Europe. But in a land far from bombs and bullets, two high school friends are separated by their dreams for adventure.
Jo's four year college education didn't satisfy her thirst to see the world. Joining the Coast Guard did. Her first assignment landed her at Air-Sea Rescue in San Pedro, California. While on duty she receives an emergency call about a mid-air collision between two planes. The pilots ejected landing them 20 miles off the coast. She learns later, one of the rescued pilots is her high school friend—Dave.
Dave loved the military and his near death experience couldn't keep him out of the sky. He spends a year overseas flying a SBD dive bomber searching for Japanese submarines. At war's end he continues to fly in the ferry command transporting aircraft. After receiving orders to transport a plane from San Francisco to San Pedro, an extra large heart-shaped box of chocolates made it's way to the two-seater Helldiver for special delivery to Jo still in San Pedro.
Just before take off, an unexpected passenger jumps on board and buckles in.
“What happened to the package in the seat?” Dave yells over his shoulder.
“I'm sitting on it,” the sailor sheepishly admits.
Determined Dave did not abort his Valentine's Day mission. Love is in the air and the smashed box of chocolates melts her heart.
After discharge from military duty, Jo returns to the midwest teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. Dave continues his reserve training in Chicago.
Their relationship blossoms and one spring day love is in the air—again.
The rumble over head lured Jo and her students outside just in time to see something fall from the plane. The curious kids ran to the drop site like a covey of quail. They confiscated a knotted pillowcase and opened to find a coded message: .. .- ..- –...-. .----..-
Who could make sense of dots and dashes? The former Coast Guard SPAR could—that's who! Dave delivers a morse code love note reading I love you.
The long time friends tied the real knot on May 13, 1950 and renew their wedding vows every year—
but that's not all.
Every Valentine's Day, Jo affectionately receives a smashed box of chocolates from her soldier sweetheart.