Legacy of love of the world’s ‘honeymoon capital’
When Americans Donald and Carol Crooks were about to celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary, they chose to return to the place where their romantic union began in 1967.
They consider Bermuda one of their favourite places in the world and said they love the friendliness of the people, beauty of the scenery and proximity to the US.
Mr and Mrs Crooks are just one of the special couples who have shared their love story — in honour of Elbow Beach's ‘100 Years of Honeymoons' celebration.
The hotel, built in 1908, was the first to be located on the Island's South Shore.
Sophie Dier, the hotel's director of communications, said: “We have been enjoying exploring the history of those who have honeymooned at the hotel over the past 100 years, many of whom return for special occasions and anniversary trips, which allows us to reconnect with them and hear their incredible stories about Elbow Beach and Bermuda and how they have changed and evolved over the years.
“Earlier this year we had three such couples return to Elbow Beach, celebrating a cumulative anniversary of 147 years of marital bliss.
“And I was fortunate enough to meet with each of them to hear their stories about honeymooning in Bermuda in the 60s.”
One of those couples met when Mr Crooks was age 12 or 13 and spotted his future wife while at a bowling alley. ‘Do you see that girl down there? That's the girl I am going to marry,' he said to his friend at the time.
He bumped into Carol again a year later at a high school dance and got up the courage to speak to her — and they have been together ever since.
When asked what first attracted him to his wife, Mr Crooks said: “She's beautiful and the best looking person I have ever seen. And you know I was just swept off my feet.
“And it works. She has been a great partner all of these years and aside from that she is just the nicest person I have ever met.”
The couple, who live in New York, were hoping to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary on the Island, but their plans were delayed after the birth of their twin grandchildren.
Instead they celebrated their 46th Anniversary earlier this summer and spent five days relaxing in Bermuda.
Another couple who recently returned to the Elbow Beach Hotel to mark their 50th Anniversary, were lovebirds Ruth and Joseph Salloum.
Back when they got married in 1963, Bermuda was considered the ‘honeymoon capital' of the world.
Mr Salloum said: “My wife visited Bermuda when she was single and since I was coming from a dark street in Paterson, New Jersey she wanted me to also experience this beautiful Island.
“This also happened to be my first aeroplane trip. She held my hand the entire flight I was so nervous.”
The couple have been able to visit the Island several times since and have built a lot of memories, including some with their two daughters. One not so happy memory came when they rented mopeds and each had taken a daughter as passenger on their cycles. The pedal of Mr Salloum's cycle caught the curb and he and their younger daughter fell off.
Their 11-year-old daughter JoAnn was alright, but Mr Salloum needed some attention at the nearby hospital.
“I stayed with the girls and the two mopeds on the grass area,” his wife recalled. “A lovely lady who lived across the street offered us a drink or whatever we needed while we waited for word about my husband.
“Not very long after, he came walking back with a bandaged leg (abrasions) and nothing more serious.
“The next day we resumed our touring and used the Island bus system.”
The happy pair met when Mrs Salloum was a teenager cheerleading for her high school basketball team. Mr Salloum had gone to the basketball game to meet her with mutual friends.
He said: “We dated for seven years and married on May 11, l963. I admired her heart. To me she was an angel and curfews had to be met on the phone and dating for she was the daughter of an Italian father and a German mother.
“We have been able to be married all of these years because of our commitment to each other through our wedding vows. The secret to success as a couple is to always say ‘Yes, dear'.”
One of the biggest changes they have seen in Bermuda throughout the years is how the population has grown — and said, with it so has the amount of traffic.
They have also noticed some changes to the hotel, the development of downtown Hamilton and more excitement brought by the cruise ships in Dockyard.
What remains the same is the couple's affinity for these 21 square miles.
The couple said they consider the Island to be a beautiful environment, where they can rest, relax and find happiness.
“The beauty of the Island, it's foliage, the long sandy pink beaches, the friendliness of the people, the rest and relaxation achieved in just a few days is what feeds our souls,” Mr Salloum said.
“Bermuda should never lose its charm or introduce measures that would taint its reputation.
“I would encourage other people to come to Bermuda as we did just after our visit this May. Our friends and neighbours came to Bermuda for a week and stayed at the Fairmont in July.”
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