Daily American Staff Writer, @DAAlyssaC
11:10 PM EDT, June 9, 2013
BROTHERSVALLEY TOWNSHIP — Joe and Darla Delancy had a Romeo and Juliet romance with a much happier ending.
But their unpretentious manner does not allude to the glamorous life of two star-crossed lovers.
"We're Joe and Darla, and we're plain as anything," Darla Delancy said in introduction from their living room.
Every flat surface of the living room is covered with photos, from images of family and friends to religious heroes like Billy Graham.
But outside is where they prefer to live.
Joe, a semi-retired rancher, and Darla, a singer who never plans to retire, met on a blind date 50 years ago. Both sets of parents disapproved of the relationship from the beginning.
Joe was born in New Baltimore. Darla was born into the Meyers family in Meyersdale.
"Neither family thought it was good enough for the other," Darla said.
She said she did not have an explanation for either family's disapproval. She thought the parents had other spouses in mind for their children.
At that time, it was illegal to marry under age 21 in Pennsylvania without parental permission. Darla was 19 and Joe was 20. The two eloped in Maryland eight months after the blind date.
"We just went against all their wishes. We just went and got married," she said.
She said the parental conflict brought the two closer.
"I really think that the more people push you, the closer you become," she said.
Her husband's work ethic was one quality that drew her to him. His ability to provide for his wife and their three children gave Darla the chance to pursue her own talents.
"He said if I married him, I could do as I wanted to," she said.
What she wanted to do was sing.
"I got my first choir robe when I was 6," she said.
She sings soprano with the Laurel Highlands Chorale. Some of her best memories were with the group. She said she met former President Bill Clinton, sang with Gov. Ed Rendell, and sang at the Flight 93 National Monument.
And even when she is not with the group, she is still singing with them. Her favorite place, a porch swing, almost always has a music player beside it. And more often than not, Darla can be found in the porch swing singing along with her recordings.
"This is where I spend my life," she said from the swing.
Joe is never far away, whether he is working on the garden or at the nearby ranch.
"I do just about anything there — plow or make hay," he said.
He also enjoys putting puzzles together for his grandchildren. They range from images of The Lord's Supper to John Deere.
"I'm a John Deere guy and a Ford man," he said.
Darla said she had no doubts that this hardworking man could provide for her.
"I was sure that a man who worked every day of his life would provide for his family, and I would rate him as 100 percent," she said.
But despite her conviction that Joe was the right man to marry in September, her thoughts were different in January. Circumstances made it difficult for Joe to make a good first impression.
Darla was dating a man who just left for California that morning. She had no intentions of meeting her future husband on a blind date that day.
"I was fretting around all day long," she said.
Darla was not happy about the set-up that night, either.
"I avoided him for one month," she said.
She stopped avoiding him on Valentine's Day — in hopes of getting rid of him.
"He kept calling and I thought if I answered he'd go away," she said.
The two plan to celebrate their 50th anniversary Sept. 22.
Their families had a change of heart as well.
"Later on, when they saw we were going to stay together, it wasn't even spoken of any more," she said.