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Dire financial report prompts closure of Com Center

Posted 6/22/12

You know you’re in love when, two weeks after your first date, you go to get tattoos together. He got an eagle on his arm. She got a rose …  well, modesty prevents her from saying where. Two months later, they stood among the dream catchers …

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Dire financial report prompts closure of Com Center

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JOE PICYou know you’re in love when, two weeks after your first date, you go to get tattoos together. He got an eagle on his arm. She got a rose …  well, modesty prevents her from saying where. Two months later, they stood among the dream catchers and blankets and jewelry in Paul Bear’s Native American goods shop in Middletown, the place they first met. 

He held a garnet ring – her birthstone – and asked her to marry him.

She said yes.

So Wendy Arwood and Craig Gourley became the second couple within the past 18 months to get engaged in Bear’s Turquoise Bear Trading Post on South Union Street. You might expect a fancy restaurant like Alfred’s Victorian or one of the town’s many churches to be the popular spot for couples to get engaged, but, strangely enough, Bear’s shop has hosted a bit of question-popping – and even one wedding.

It’s a place where people stop to chat, where people meet, and where people seem to fall in love. That’s what happened with Arwood, 48, and Gourley, 61. Now they’re planning a wedding on June 15, 2013 at Wesley United Methodist Church.

It happened with a simple introduction: Gourley, who likes to sit on the bench outside the Brownstone Cafe and watch people go by, stopped at Bear’s shop down the street to chat. Arwood stopped in to shop, as she had done a few times before. Bear didn’t know either of them well, but introduced them anyway, then went back to the wood-working he was doing outside his shop.

Gourley was smitten – “She looked pretty nice to me,’’ he said – and started talking. And talking. And talking. “About anything and everything,’’ he recalled.

He gave her his phone number. 

She debated whether to call him. 

“I was back and forth,’’ she admitted. “I had to think about it a couple days.’’ She decided to call.

Their first date was a picnic in Hoffer Park. She once worked as a carny, operating rides for a carnival. He once worked as a shopping mall Santa Claus. They both graduated from Lower Dauphin High School – he in 1969, she in 1982 – and had a lot in common. They both liked the simple things in life – being outdoors, sitting on a bench and watching people go by.

“She’s down to earth – I like a woman who is down to earth, like I am,’’ said Gourley. 

Her assessment of him: “He’s a special guy,’’ she said. “He makes me happy.’’

Both have had relationships before, but swear this one feels special. “Like I’m out in space somewhere,’’ said Arwood.

In fact, they finish each other’s sentences, like a married couple, after just 2-1/2 months.

An example: “I fell in love with her,’’ he said, explaining their engagement. “It just happened. You’re just thinking it, and it’s one of those things that – ”

“Hits you,’’ she interjected.

On the day he proposed, they agreed to meet at Bear’s shop. She was nervous, and he was nervous because she was nervous.

It was a simple proposal. He placed the ring on her finger and asked her to marry him. She didn’t hesitate to say yes.

The wedding ceremony at the Methodist church will be the same as the engagement, as their courting, as their meeting. “Plain and simple,’’ said Arwood.




Jim Lewis: 717-944-4628, or jimlewis@pressandjournal.com 

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