When Pat and Carl Sciple first met at Rehoboth Beach one sunny summer day in 1969, Pat said she knew “it was love at first sight.” They had each rented a beach house with friends, and one afternoon the two groups got together.
For Pat, it was “all about Carl’s personality, not to mention the good looks. He was a young, strong Army officer. He was friendly, outgoing, and comfortable. I saw that right away.”
“I looked over at this girl, and I said, ‘ooh,’” remembered Carl. “I had my eye on her. And as we talked, I found out she was a pretty darn nice person.”
Carl and Pat Sciple. (Courtesy photo)
“You might say we linked up,” laughed Pat demurely. The couple dated through the fall, but then their relationship was put on hold when Carl returned to Vietnam for a second yearlong tour.
They were in love, but Pat knew Carl “was not going to put an engagement ring on my finger until he got back. I sensed that he wanted me to enjoy my year, do what I wanted to do, and we would pick it up when he got back.” Carl had the idea that the separation would be a good “proving ground” for his relationship with Pat, to see if she really liked him.
At one point, Carl’s buddy wrote him and let him know that he had taken Pat out to dinner. Was it a date, Carl wondered? At this point in the interview, Pat couldn’t help but interject: “No! He was like a grandfather figure to me.” Carl remembered feeling pleased to find that the next week Pat also wrote and told him about the dinner, which assured him of Pat’s loyalty and affection. Upon hearing this story again, Pat shook her head and said, “Oh my goodness. Now see how men are? All we did was talk about Carl when we would meet.”
In fact, while Carl was gone, Pat did not play the field. Instead, she sent him letters and care packages, “the kinds of things a girlfriend would do,” she recalled. “I didn’t want to sit home and knit, but I didn’t date. I went out with friends and was busy with teaching, which I loved.”
“Pat was wonderful. She wrote me a letter every week,” Carl said. Once he returned from Vietnam, the couple married at West Point, where Carl had graduated 10 years before, and where both their children would be baptized over the next two years.
As a military family, Carl and Pat lived many places together, including Virginia and Germany. They moved regularly, usually every two or three years. Near the tail end of his 24-year career with the U.S. Army, Carl found himself once again reassigned somewhere new, this time to the New England Division of the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Being that Carl’s job was going to be in Waltham, we initially looked closer to Waltham,” explained Pat. “But we were staying in lodging at Fort Devens. So every night we would drive through Harvard after searching. The town was celebrating its 250th anniversary at the time. All the bunting was up! It was the quintessential New England Common. Kids were playing soccer. The whole thing appealed to us as a family.”
“The other reason we moved to town was the elementary school principal, Mr. Ingmanson,” added Carl. When they met with him as potential new parents in the district, he mentioned he could give them the names of families with children living in their new neighborhood. “He opened up a map on the back of one of the doors in his office, and it had all these little colored pins in it,” recalled Carl, still impressed many years later with a principal so familiar with each family and street in his school district. “It turns out he was a wonderful principal.”
After living for three years on Old Mill Road, Carl finally retired from the Army, which allowed the family to decide to settle more permanently in Massachusetts. “We thought of our children,” said Pat. “They were of the age where you want to give them roots. We knew their friends and their friends’ parents, and we liked them all. We had made a nice circle of friends through activities with our children and church. It just seemed to fit.”
The family built a new house on a plot of land they had purchased on Candleberry Lane. But eventually the kids grew up, and the house that was meant for four felt too big for just the two of them. After 17 years they left Harvard to improve Carl’s commute to his job at Massport. They loved their place in Wellesley, an antique house right on the marathon route. But Harvard had always felt like a home they wanted to return to. So last month, Carl and Pat moved to Harvard for the second time, into another antique house, this time on Fairbank Street.
“It was always in our head to move back to Harvard, and the reason why is family,” said Pat.
Their daughter, Amy, still lives in Harvard, and she teaches at Hildreth Elementary School. The two provided “Grammy and Grampy-care” for their grandchildren while their parents worked. Caring for their grandchildren felt like “a priority and a joy,” said Pat, a natural extension of their family commitment, which is one of their most enduring values, along with faith, honesty, and integrity. “We used to tell our kids, the house will change, but home is where mom and dad are. That will always be the same,” explained Carl.
So after 45 years of marriage, what do they still love about each other?
“Pat’s a very giving person, she’s always trying to take care of me. I feel very lucky,” said Carl.
“I like his sense of humor, and the fact that he loves me. I know that’s a fact. And so does he,” said Pat.
Now that they have returned to Harvard, both Carl and Pat have enjoyed running into old friends around town. “It really does feel like coming home,” Carl commented. Now that he and Pat have both officially retired, they are enjoying the process of settling into their new home and rediscovering those old connections.
As for Pat, she is looking forward to spending a little more time together: “I just want him to smell the roses a little bit more. I wanted more freedom to do things, take a three-day weekend. Now that I don’t do Grammy-care anymore, I need my playmate back!”
Carl smiled. “When she told me that, boy, my eyes lit up!”