Love at first bite?

February 14, 2004

Barbara Harnish says her husband's brothers teased that she knew her spouse from the inside out.

A dental hygienist, she met Merle Harnish while cleaning his teeth in 1971.

He called the office the next day, got her phone number, and they made plans to see each other.

Their first date was at Hagerstown City Park on a snowy Sunday - Nov. 18, 1971.

Merle Harnish and his dental hygienist played on the swings and seesaw. He told her he'd call her.

She waited.

Barbara Harnish tears up a little when remembering a conversation with her late grandmother to whom she was close.

"Someday you're going to meet a good man," she promised, "one who will treat you like a precious gem."

Barbara Harnish visited her grandmother's grave and asked her to ask God to encourage Merle Harnish to call her.

He did - the next Sunday.


The pair dated for a short time and got engaged on Christmas Eve.

Barbara Harnish laughs when recalling that she had visited a palm reader a few months earlier. She was told she'd meet a man good with numbers.

Merle Harnish is an accountant.

The couple will celebrate 32 years of marriage March 23.

There have been arguments and many things about which they don't agree, Harnish says, and she adds that they were open about their differences.

She thinks it's been important for her now grown children - a daughter, Whitney, and a son, Ian - to know a man and woman can argue, make up and continue to love.

"There's nothing I would change," Harnish says. "I would do it all again in a heartbeat."

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