By Karen Carstens and Asmaa Malik
WASHINGTON – Ask someone married to recall their best Valentine’s Day date, and their thoughts often drift to their spouses.
Maryland’s members of Congress were no exception.
When several were pressed, they told tales involving their mates – and horses, dances and secret signals.
Here, from the reluctant, are their stories.
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest could not remember his best Valentine’s Day, but he did recall a 1971 date with his wife, Barbara.
The then-25-year-old student’s horse, stabled in Dover, Del., played a key role in “probably my most memorable date ever,” Gilchrest said.
“We went horseback riding … and the horse ran away with her on it,” the Eastern Shore Republican said. Although it eventually returned Barbara to the barn, “she didn’t want to ride anymore after that.”
Despite the misadventure, the two were married that same year, in September.
They still keep horses at their Kennedyville home and Barbara still doesn’t ride, he said.
But Gilchrest and daughter Katie do.
What does he have planned this Valentine’s Day?
“I’m not the Valentine’s type,” he said. “I have a problem with Valentine’s Day. I don’t think about it until it’s over.”
This year, he might “bring a couple of milkshakes home” or stop at a 7-Eleven to pick up a box of candy, he said.
Rep. Benjamin Cardin also draws a blank on Valentine’s Day, but he does recall the most special date of his life.
In junior high school, Cardin broke up with a girl he had been dating for a while.
So, he asked his friend, Myrna Edelman, to go to a school dance with him.
“We had such a good time, we’ve been dancing ever since,” the Baltimore Democrat said.
They’ve been married since November 1964.
Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett’s most memorable Valentine’s Day involved a spontaneous sing-a-long.
Bartlett said he and his wife, Ellen, were attending a church-sponsored “Sweetheart Banquet” at a restaurant in Thurmont. Their group began singing romantic ballads, and, soon, others in a nearby room asked to join their crooning.
The Western Maryland Republican said he’s not sure if his church is having the banquet this year, but he is sure he plans to spend the day with Ellen.
Republican Rep. Constance Morella said the most special Valentine she received was the one her husband-to-be gave her in the Boston Public Library a month after their first date on Jan. 13, 1950.
In it, Anthony Morella wrote the code “1-4-3.”
It’s the message used by New England lighthouses to signal, “I love you.”
The two were married in 1954. Capital News Service reporters Loren Goloski and Margie Hyslop contributed to this report. -30-