Fringilla Mabon and Louis Orange, both 66, chat while waiting for their lunch, a rack of ribs, to finish slow cooking June 29 at Mabon's apartment in Starkville. The two "had eyes for each other" in 1970 while attending Central High School in Mobile, Alabama, but never had a relationship — until three years ago, when they rekindled old flames through Facebook. Photo by: Victoria Cheyne/Dispatch Staff
July 8, 2019 9:45:15 AM
In Louis Orange's kitchen, ribs are the specialty.
To prepare for lunch on June 29, he marinated a rack overnight in mustard and Italian dressing, a tip he picked up from his mother as a little boy growing up in Mobile, Alabama.
"We specialize in this kind of stuff down by the water," Orange said.
He added a little salt and pepper and rubbed everything into the meat before it basked for hours on a charcoal grill.
He's sometimes cooking for family and friends and bigger groups, but on the Saturday before last, he was just making lunch for himself and Fringilla Mabon, his high school sweetheart.
The pair recently got back together after spending decades apart, and Orange, who still lives in Mobile, served the ribs during a visit to Mabon's apartment in Starkville.
Mabon and Orange, both 66, knew each other from the marching band at Central High School in Mobile in 1970. Orange was popular and handsome, Mabon said. He was the president of the band and played the trumpet. Mabon, a curly-haired girl who played the bells, was "smart, conservative and neat," Orange said.
Orange said the two laughed a lot back in high school, and that humor is the foundation of their relationship to this day.
Mabon said the two flirted a little when she and her serious high school boyfriend broke up, but nothing more than that. She later got back together with the boyfriend, who became her first husband, so Orange kept his distance.
"We had eyes for each other or whatever," Mabon said.
After high school, Orange and Mabon lived completely different lives. Orange served in the Vietnam War and worked as a barber in a Mobile barbershop. Mabon moved to Miami with her father after her mother died and pursued a career in nursing for more than 20 years with the Veterans Association hospital in Miami. Each had marriages and their own children.
It wasn't until right before Mabon retired and moved to Starkville to be near seven of her nine grandchildren in 2015 that the two crossed paths again -- this time online. Mabon and Orange started to reconnect through Facebook, a 21st century twist to their 20th century love story.
Orange posted daily Bible devotionals on the platform, which showed in Mabon's feed. After liking and commenting for a while, they took the plunge and became Facebook friends.
Then three years ago, they saw each other in person, for the first time in nearly 50 years, at their high school reunion in Mobile. After that, they gradually began talking more and more.
"I guess love doesn't die," Orange said.
Now they're considering getting married, and Mabon plans to move back to Mobile at the end of the year to be close to Orange and other family in the area.
They still smile at each other the way they might have as teenagers back in band practice.
"I love her for who she is, her laughter, her pride in herself and in her family," Orange said.
They plan to spend the rest of their lives together, doing exactly what they were doing last week: cooking ribs and enjoying each others' company.
"At this age we have fun," Mabon said. "At this age it's nice to be with somebody."
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