reed magazine logowinter2007

Love Stories

Eva and Arny:
Look, no hands

Who: Eva Lamfrom Labby ’51, retired mental health resource consultant, married for 48 years to Arnold Labby

Arnold Labby ’51, retired clinical psychologist

Where: Interviewed at their elegant colonial-style home a few blocks from the Reed campus in Eastmoreland.

 
Eva and Arny - wedding day

Their wedding day in 1958.

 
   

Eva and Arny were at Reed at the same time. He was older, attending college on the G.I. Bill. He remembers her in those days: “She was everywhere on campus, even sometimes in the library.”

A mutual friend set them up on a date, and they went to a Chinese restaurant, where Arny danced on Eva’s feet. That was the end of their early romance.

In 1957, Eva moved to San Francisco, where Arny was living at the time. She had his name and phone number but never called. “I didn’t want him to feel obligated,” she says.

One day, Arny was driving downtown and noticed that the driver of the VW bug next to him wasn’t touching the steering wheel. She was applying her makeup instead. He watched her—stop to stop to stop. He thought he recognized her, and later wrote to his mother in Portland (the families were slightly acquainted) to find out if Eva was in San Francisco.

He got her phone number and they went out occasionally. At the time, Arny was busy building a boat, but he took time out to help her move. “We were buddies,” she says.

One day, Arny mentioned that he was driving to Portland to visit family and offered Eva a ride. She had just lost her job and had some free time. But a man out of Eva’s past had reappeared—someone, she says, “who had never paid any attention before.” She went out with him—tennis, the zoo, dinner. “I was swept off my feet and forgot all about Arny’s offer,” she says.

The next morning, Arny appeared at her door at 6 a.m. with a pot of hot coffee. “He was so sweet and patient,” she remembers. “He said, ‘If you want to go, I’ll wait.’”

They drove to Portland in Arny’s silver-beige MG. Later in the week, they both attended the same party. “You had a good tan,” Arny reminds her. “You were wearing that orange dress with the straps. It stopped here”—he puts his hand low on his chest.

“Spaghetti straps,” says Eva. “I still have it.”

“My goodness, I couldn’t let that get away,” he says.

They drove back to San Francisco with the top down. By the time they hit Northern California, it was getting dark and there was a full moon. “It sounds corny,” says Eva, “but suddenly I saw him in a different light.”

  Eva and Arny Labby on vacation

Eva Labby ’51 and Arny Labby ’51 recently on vacation in the French Marquesas.

   

“In the dark,” Arny quips.

One evening soon after, he cooked Eva dinner at his apartment—chicken with artichoke hearts and vermouth. “An old family recipe,” he told her (he’d found it in the newspaper). After dinner, they were watching The Maltese Falcon and he said:

“What are you doing tomorrow?”

“Looking for a job,” she said.

“If you’re not doing anything else, do you want to get married?”

“Me?” she asked.

“There’s no one else here,” he replied.

She didn’t have an answer that night. Three days later, Arny was at the boatyard, having freshly painted the engine compartment of his boat, when Eva arrived unannounced with a picnic lunch.

“We sat on the boat deck with our feet dangling,” Arny says. Eva had made a rice-and-shrimp dish from an old Multnomah Hotel recipe that they both loved, as well as hardboiled eggs. Some of the eggshells fell onto the wet paint as they ate.

“You know what we were talking about the other night?” she asked.

“Even if she had said ‘no,’ our friendship would have gone on very nicely,” Arny now says.

But she didn’t say no.

They picked the eggshells out of the paint, then drove back to town to call their mothers with the good news.

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