|By Tim Shaw Sr.|
with Ann Romney when Mitt was running for the
Senate in MASS. She talks about Ann and Miit's early
married years at BYU. We come away with a much
better sense of them as regular struggling newly
weds. It reminds me of my own early married years at
Boston Globe, Boston, Mass. Author: Jack Thomas, Globe Staff
Date: Oct 20, 1994..................
"What attracted me to Mitt was his sense of humor. He was funny, and fun to be with. No matter where he was, there was a lot of action. In high school, we water-skied almost every day. He taught me to water ski, I taught him to snow ski. When he went to Stanford, his parents didn't want him to work. They wanted him to concentrate on studies. So, the first thing he did was get a job as chauffeur on campus, and made enough money so he could fly home and see me.
"He didn't want his parents to know. They had no idea he was coming home weekends. Mitt's father was governor and staying in Lansing, so Mitt just stayed at the family house. Once we ended up at a party and saw Mitt's parents, but they didn't see us, because as soon as we saw them, we made a U-turn and left."
In 1966, Mitt decided to interrupt his education for 30 months of missionary service for the Mormon Church in France.
"Did I feel smothered by Mitt? No. I had boys pursuing me and I dated while Mitt was gone, but I was never interested in anyone else. Mitt really stole my heart from the very first."
Raised as an Episcopalian, Ann waited until Mitt was abroad before she joined the Mormon Church.
"Mitt didn't want me to join just for him, and he didn't want me to be influenced by him. What drew me to it? When Mitt and I were dating, I'd ask him what he believed in, and I was touched by his faith and by the precepts."
On the day of his return in November 1968, waiting at the Detroit airport with 30 of his relatives, Ann was apprehensive. Would he feel the same? Would she?
"When he walked off the plane, he made a beeline for me, grabbed me and barely spoke to anyone else. On the drive home, we were jammed in the back of a station wagon for an hour and a remarkable thing happened. It was as though time dissolved and we were back where we'd been years earlier. By the time we got home, we were talking marriage."
With the exception of Mitt's father, everyone in the family was so shocked that a meeting was held to dissuade the young lovers.
As Mitt recalled a few days ago, "Ann's mother said she was convinced I was not good enough for Ann, and actually, as time went on, she remained convinced of it. She used to say that Ann is an angel, and the amazing thing is that Ann is an angel. I can't think of a weakness. She really is extraordinary."
Mitt and Ann prevailed, however. Because Mitt's father had been governor of Michigan and a presidential candidate, the wedding in March 1969 had political flavor. Among 250 guests was former President Ford. President Nixon wired congratulations.
After a honeymoon in Hawaii, Ann returned to studies at Brigham Young University, and Mitt joined her for a semester, fell in love with BYU and transferred from Stanford.
"They were not easy years. You have to understand, I was raised in a lovely neighborhood, as was Mitt, and at BYU, we moved into a $62-a-month basement apartment with a cement floor and lived there two years as students with no income.
"It was tiny. And I didn't have money to carpet the floor. But you can get remnants, samples, so I glued them together, all different colors. It looked awful, but it was carpeting.
"We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time.
"The stock came from Mitt's father. When he took over American Motors, the stock was worth nothing. But he invested Mitt's birthday money year to year -- it wasn't much, a few thousand, but he put it into American Motors because he believed in himself. Five years later, stock that had been $6 a share was $96 and Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education.
"Mitt and I walked to class together, shared housekeeping, had a lot of pasta and tuna fish and learned hard lessons.
"I made a mistake in taking a class with him, then decided never again. He graduated first in his class, and he's so extraordinarily bright that he was always the brightest. If you were in his class, he'd bring down your grade, blow the curve.
"We had our first child in that tiny apartment. We couldn't afford a desk, so we used a door propped on sawhorses in our bedroom. It was a big door, so we could study on it together. And we bought a portable crib, took the legs off and put it on the desk while we studied. I had a baby sitter during class time, but otherwise, I'd hold my son on my lap while I studied.
"The funny thing is that I never expected help. My father had become wealthy through hard work, as did Mitt's father, but I never expected our parents to take care of us. They'd visit, laugh and say, `We can't believe you guys are living like this.' They'd take us out to dinner, have a good time, then leave.
"We stayed till Mitt graduated in 1971, and when he was accepted at Harvard Law, we came east. He was also accepted at Harvard Business School as part of a joint program that admits 25 a year, so he was getting degrees from Harvard Law and Business schools at the same time.
"Remember, we'd been paying $62 a month rent, but here, rents were $400, and for a dump. This is when we took the now-famous loan that Mitt talks about from his father and bought a $42,000 home in Belmont, and you know? The mortgage payment was less than rent. Mitt saw that the Boston market was behind Chicago, LA and New York. We stayed there seven years and sold it for $90,000, so we not only stayed for free, we made money. As I said, Mitt's very bright.
"Another son came along 18 months later, although we waited four years to have the third, because Mitt was still in school and we had no income except the stock we were chipping away at. We were living on the edge, not entertaining. No, I did not work. Mitt thought it was important for me to stay home with the children, and I was delighted.
"Right after Mitt graduated in 1975, we had our third boy and it was about the time Mitt's first paycheck came along. So, we were married a long time before we had any income, about five years as struggling students. Mitt had offers in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, but we loved Boston. One thing led to another, and he went from Boston Consulting Group to Bain & Co., where he became an extraordinarily young partner.
"Now, every once in a while, we say if things get rough, we can go back to a $62-a-month apartment and be happy. All we need is each other and a little corner and we'll be fine."