Local couple shares Gator Bowl love story

Couple met at Gator Bowl parade in 1951

Author: Joy Purdy, 5:30, 6:30 and 11 p.m. anchor, jpurdy@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 30 2013 10:54:13 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 30 2013 11:40:05 PM EST
Marlene and James Conaway
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

James and Marlene Conaway found love at the Gator Bowl Parade in Jacksonville 62 years ago.

"I was in the Navy," said James Conaway, "and me and a friend of mine come to town to -- we really come to town to get drunk, have a party and find some girls."

Little did James know that while standing on Forsyth Street watching the parade go by, he'd see a woman that he couldn't keep his eyes off of.

"So we kind followed them, they got on a bus, but we got on the bus too, not knowing where we was going," said Conaway.

Conaway and his pal from the Navy talked to the girls and ended up getting an invitation to a party that night.

"I was wearing a blue dress," remembered Marlene Conaway. "With a little white ribbon up the neck and I had on them shoes with ankle straps, high heeled shoes."

It was New Year's Eve 1951, the night James Conaway said he met the love of his life. Conaway said it didn't take them long to realize they were meant to be. Three months after meeting, the two were married.

"I couldn't hardly wait, I just, I just. That's the only girl I ever loved and, she still is," said Conaway.

James and Marlene had 4 children that they raised in Jacksonville. The couple lives in Middleburg now and say they've never missed a Gator Bowl Parade.