Tobe and Roberta Cogswell have been one another’s Valentine for almost 70 years.
The couple, who have made their home in Payson since 1980, met in the summer of 1941 at a wedding.
Roberta’s cousin was getting married and she was a bridesmaid and Tobe was friends with her cousin, the groom.
“She liked my convertible Ford,” Tobe said.
“It was gray,” Roberta added.
Their first date was a movie, Tobe said. Not dinner and a movie, just a movie.
“I don’t think I ever took her to dinner,” he said.
“Yes you did,” Roberta corrected, “A couple of times.”
He also took her to New York sightseeing and in the afternoon to a football game at the Polo Grounds.
Tobe worked at a machine shop in Hartford, Conn., while Roberta was a secretary for Stanley Tools in New Britain, Conn.
Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Tobe went down to the recruiting office the next day and joined the U.S. Marines. Cogswell went into the service on Jan. 6, 1942. He traveled by train to South Carolina.
“At every station we picked up a lot of guys,” he said — all were headed to Parris Island for basic training.
The training took only five weeks
then, he said. It takes three months now.
When Cogswell completed basic he was sent to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was assigned to the First Marine Division First Regiment (First Marines First Marine Division).
“On the first of June, we were on a train to San Francisco. And on June 21, we left for New Zealand,” he said.
They arrived at Wellington, New Zealand on July 7 to begin training with the Fifth Marines — or so they thought. On July 21, Cogswell and his fellow Marines were sent to Fiji Island for practice landings. From Fiji they headed to Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Tobe took part in the battle of the Teneru on Aug. 21 where he was later wounded. For his actions in this battle he was awarded the Silver Star and promoted to sergeant.
Roberta worked for the Stanley Tools official in charge of all the government contracts.
“She wrote to me practically every day,” Tobe said of their long distance relationship.
He wrote to her when he could.
“We had ‘V-mail’ — They gave us a form to write on and they reduced it and sent it out,” Tobe explained.
He proposed while overseas. “I had a friend who was in the diamond business and I had him go see her and give her a diamond ring.”
That was in August 1943. The couple married July 26, 1944 in New Britain, Conn., when Tobe finally was given leave.
“I had about two weeks to plan the wedding,” Roberta said.
Her sister and two bridesmaids attended her. Tobe wore his uniform, the rest of the men were in suits.
“During the war, you were always in uniform,” Tobe said.
Their reception was in Roberta’s parents’ home. Their wedding trip took them to Boston and then to Maine.
Following the honeymoon, the Cogswells went to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Tobe was stationed. In order to live on base, Roberta had to work for the military. She was able to get a job with the housing office.
They were first given a doublewide trailer, then a narrower one — like an Airstream — and then another doublewide.
Their son Brent was born December 1945 while they were living on base, but only six weeks later, Tobe was discharged and they made the move back to Connecticut by train, switching in New York from Penn Station to Grand Central.
“It was really something trying to travel in a sleeper car with a 6-week-old baby,” Roberta said.
They made their home in Connecticut, where their daughter, Roberta, was born December 1947. In 1950 they came to Arizona.
“He didn’t like the winters in Connecticut,” Roberta explained.
They lived in Phoenix for 11 years and then in Scottsdale for 19. Both worked for Farnam, a company that manufactured products for horses. Tobe did the photography for its marketing department and Roberta was the purchasing agent and production manager — ordering all the ingredients and packaging materials the company used for more than 100 different products.
In addition to their two children, the couple has two grandchildren and four great-grandsons.
“It’s been a good life. We’ve traveled a lot,” Roberta said.
“It sure has been a great life,” Tobe said.
After 66 — almost 67 years — they are still going strong. The day of this interview they worked out in the morning at the Payson Athletic Club as they do three days a week
And about that convertible that Tobe said first attracted Roberta to him — it might be a thing of the past, but now he has a red one, a Mustang he got for his 90th birthday.