2014-02-14 / Front Page

Longtime Cape residents have Valentine’s formula

By Tracy Orzel
Contributing Writer

Gertrude and Frank Ham Gertrude and Frank Ham CAPE ELIZABETH – Frank Ham said he’s made some mistakes in his life, but marrying his wife of 45 years is one of the things he got right.

“There’s nothing I could buy her because she’s just so wonderful. The whole town of Cape Elizabeth (should) realize what I’ve got,” Ham said.

Ham met and married Gertrude Bean in 1968 when he was 37 and she was 45.

The two met at Hay and Peabody Funeral Home on Congress Street in Portland, where his wife worked as a secretary and Ham as a janitor, but it wasn’t until he saw her walking down the stairs at First Baptist Church in South Portland that he really noticed her.

“I walked up the stairs and I said, ‘You go here?’ and that’s how it started,” Ham said.

While they courted, Ham used to put candy in his wife’s pocket and clean the snow off her car before she left work.

“Everybody thought, ‘Boy, oh boy Gertrude. You’re taking one awful chance with that guy,’” Ham said. “It just goes to show you about life in general. (People) recognize you for what you were, not who you are.”

That year, Gertrude went to Chicago for a few weeks and Ham sent her flowers.

“When she came back she called me up. I was working on her mother’s house trying to help her and in the parking lot at First Baptist Church she said to me, ‘I knew when I saw you coming to pick me up, that you were the man of my life.’ I was filthy; I was all dirty from helping her mother out,” Ham said.

The couple married at Gertrude’s home on Spurwink Avenue in December 1968 and built their own home several houses down “so she wouldn’t get lost.”

“The nicest thing about it, I married her on a Saturday so we’d have beans and ham together,” said Ham with a laugh.

After spending nearly half a century together, Ham said his fondest memories are of coming home and seeing the love in his wife’s eyes.

“I love Gertrude. I don’t know how to put it. She’s the most honest person you will ever meet in your whole lifetime. She don’t play any games. She’s just a wonderful, wonderful lady.”

Ham’s advice to newlyweds? Honesty is the best policy.

“One thing we don’t do. We don’t lie to one another. That’s awfully important,” Ham said. “You can’t stand there and lie to your wife or vice versa and expect you’re going to get anything out of it. You’re going to lose in the long run.“

The couple still worships at First Baptist Church, where Ham fell for his wife 45 years ago and he counts himself lucky to have found true love.

“From the bottom of my heart, my life is complete now that I have my wonderful wife,” said Ham.

“P.S. I love you, pretty eyes.”

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