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RIGHT TIME RIGHT PLACE: They tied the knot after she plaited his afro

by Kimberly Dishongh | April 30, 2023 at 2:43 a.m.
David Lewis and Eloise Seay (left) were married on Feb. 18, 1972, in the minister’s home. Eloise made her own dress and they had a small party for friends and family afterward. He was glad to marry into her family. “They were such great mentors to me, in the love extended to me,” he says. At right, Eloise and David Lewis had a formal vow renewal ceremony last year to celebrate their 50th anniversary. They had a chance to have the wedding they didn’t have the first time around. “I didn’t want to do it just for the purpose of having a vow renewal,” says Eloise. “I wanted us to be an example for other people.” (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Eloise Seay was walking home from the grocery store with her roommate when David Lewis rolled into her world.

"I happened to see the roommate, who I knew," says David, who was cruising in his 1962 Volkswagen down Broadway and Roosevelt in Little Rock in July 1969. "I didn't know Eloise at the time but she had on some yellow hot pants, which I really liked."

Eloise was captivated by David's big, long-lashed eyes. He told them a friend on leave from the military was visiting him for the weekend and asked if he and his friend could drop by for a visit.

"That night my friend, who I had graduated from Horace Mann with, and I went by the rooming house where they lived on 24th Street," he says. "I wasn't there an hour when I was laying my head in her lap. I had a huge afro back then and before I knew it she was plaiting me up. It was all over for me after that."

Eloise had graduated from Oak Grove High School at the age of 17. She had trouble making it on time each morning to her job with the Arkansas School for the Blind, so she had convinced her mother to let her move to Little Rock to live with a cousin. She later went to work at Timex.

David started his junior year at Philander Smith College about a month after they met. He visited Eloise almost every evening.

"He couldn't get enough of me. We did a lot of partying," Eloise says. "That's what we did."

They would play music and dance in Eloise's apartment, and sometimes they would go out to a nightclub, the Diplomat.

"I think she thought I was a nerd," David says, "until I lightened up a little bit. I think that was my personality at the time."

He was very serious, she says, and kind of shy.

"And he was very tall," she says. "During that era we did a lot of club dancing, going to dances that they would sponsor every year at the Dunbar Community Center."

After a while, Eloise asked him when they were going to get married.

"I was still in college and my mother wanted me to finish college," he says. "But I finally gave her a wedding date."

He graduated in May 1971, and they were married on Feb. 18, 1972, a Friday, in the minister's home.

David had been impressed early on by Eloise's cooking and homemaking skills, so he was not surprised when she made her wedding dress.

"We didn't have any money back then," she says. "I made a little straight, white dress, not a maxi but halfway, and it would have a split up the front. I had that on with a little veil and I had a little bouquet."

David's mother and the minister were the only witnesses.

"We had a very brief little party at the house and I moved out of my mother's house and then I took her to Benton for our honeymoon for one night," David says. "We started life as a married couple that Monday morning."

That, Eloise says, is when they went to the laundromat. David remembers going to redeem some S & H Green Stamps for some things for their apartment. They went home with a shag lamp, a bar with two stools, a black ottoman and a blacklight poster.

"It was a furnished apartment, and I convinced her to paint the coffee table black, dye the curtains black and we got this white rug," he says. "When we got married we pooled our money and we bought our own sofa and love seat and a glass-topped coffee table that we still have."

David also bought a nice stereo set with two speakers for their new place, important for music and dancing.

It was a great time to be alive, he says.

"It was a time of social upheaval. It was the Age of Aquarius and there was a lot of racial mixing," he says. "The Watergate trials were being televised on TV and we were young and we wore bell bottoms and afros."

In 1974, they bought a townhouse duplex near Little Rock Central High, fixing up one side for themselves and renting the other side to some friends.

David and Eloise have two children -- Melia Mason who lives with her husband, Russell, in Maumelle, and Marcus Lewis who lives with his wife, Andrea, in Little Rock. David and Eloise also have six grandchildren.

"The blessing of God is that 25 years later, to make up for the little honeymoon we had, I took her to Paris, France, for our 25th wedding anniversary," says David. "We kissed under the Eiffel Tower."

Last year, for their 50th anniversary, they renewed their vows with a formal ceremony and a big party.

"I wanted to glorify God," says Eloise, who along with David has worked with many young people through their church. "I wanted to be a witness for them that it's possible to be together for 50-some years and to show that it's possible to stay together like we have."

If you have an interesting how-we-met story or if you know someone who does, please call (501) 425-7228 or email:

[email protected]

The first time I saw my future spouse:

She says: "He was tall and he had big eyes and long eyelashes."

He says: "I noticed her short yellow hot pants."

On our wedding day:

She says: "I remember cleaning my apartment where he was going to move in after we were married."

He says: "I had never lived on my own, so I moved out of my mothers house and into her apartment."

My advice for a long happy marriage:

She says: "Keep your mouth closed sometimes."

He says: "If God is not in a marriage it will not succeed."


Print Headline: They tied the knot after she plaited his afro


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