Still dancing with the one that brung 'em

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Seventy-six years ago, today, Mickey and Lois Bell married. They began dating as high schoolers in Fort Stockton. Mickey was 16; Lois was 14.

After graduation, they both attended the University of Texas at Austin. Mickey studied pre-law, but was forced to leave school early. Lois graduated with a degree in Spanish. According to Lois, she would not marry Mickey until he got a serious job. It was the Great Depression.

Mickey landed a job at Humble Oil and Refining Company, which eventually became Exxon, and after an eight-year courtship, Lois agreed to marry him. The wedding was on a Saturday, December 15, 1934. Today, the Bells live in San Antonio. After spending their first 30 years of retirement in Fredericksburg, their children decided they should live closer to the city. And they took away the keys to Mickey’s Suburban and Lois’s Cadillac.

Upon moving in 2006, Lois decided to become a full-fledged San Antonio Spurs fan at the age of 94. After living in small West Texas towns like Fort Stockton and Odessa, followed by the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg, San Antonio afforded her newfound entertainment — a professional basketball team. “One of the things I like about the Spurs is that they are a neat group, and they seem like good people,” said Lois.

Yet, Lois and Mickey had still not seen a professional basketball game in person.

That changed on Sunday, December 5, when the Spurs hosted the New Orleans Hornets. Mickey, 100, and Lois, 98, witnessed the swatting of the Hornets firsthand. “I liked the whole atmosphere and the fact that there was a lot of variety,” said Mickey. “It’s not like sitting at home, watching television, where you have to keep watching those annoying commercials.”

“You don’t realize what’s really going on until you watch a game in person,” said Lois.

The couple was caught off guard by the production’s “Kiss Cam.” During a timeout, the arena announcer spotlighted the Bells, declaring that they were in attendance to celebrate their 76 years of marriage. The crowd applauded with smiling faces and romantic music played, but Lois and Mickey didn’t kiss. According to Lois, they didn’t realize they were on the scoreboard until it was too late.

“We did not know what was going on,” said Lois.

If granted another appearance on the “Kiss Cam,” however, Lois admitted that they would try, but “it would probably be very awkward.”

Seated on the couch in their retirement-community apartment, Mickey expressed frustration over his occasional memory loss, while Lois, the consummate host, poured afternoon Coca-Cola cocktails. She walked behind the couch, divvying up snack-sized portions of popcorn from a Christmas tin. Though Lois navigated back to her chair with ease, a recent broken hip has ended her dancing days.

“We danced many a mile,” said Lois. “He was a good-looking young man.”

“Was? I still am,” said Mickey.

They’re now trying to make sure their three sons, 10 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren can share in their Spurs enthusiasm. “I do not know whether our youngest son has ever been to a live Spurs game,” said Lois. “I am going to see if we can get him to one.”

Even if “Go Spurs Go” is the only phrase you know, don’t worry — you’ll fit right in. One of sports’ greatest powers is its ability to ease the divide within communities, bringing people of diverse backgrounds together for a shared cause.

I went to the AT&T Center to report on the game, but came away more greatly affected by the love and respect shared by Mickey and Lois Bell.

Happy 76th Anniversary.

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