Over the moon: One couple’s lunar love story

  • Peter Ives and Jenny Fleming-Ives are seen in Northampton. Submitted photo

  • Peter Ives and Jenny Fleming-Ives are seen in Glasgow, Scotland. Submitted photo

For the Gazette
Published: 7/19/2019 6:12:44 PM

On the night of the moon landing, while a small television in a tenement kitchen in Glasgow, Scotland, showed Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, 19-year-old social work student and cook Jenny Fleming told anyone who would listen that the whole endeavor was a waste of resources. Peter Ives, an American missionary who had been moved by President John F. Kennedy’s ability to rally the nation around the goal of putting a man on the moon, struck up a debate with her.

“I knew that night I wanted to marry her,” Ives said Friday over the phone. He was going to leave in three weeks, however, to go backpacking around Europe. So at the end of those three weeks, he decided to propose.

“I was only 19, and still a student, so I said no,” said Fleming-Ives, laughing. Fleming, who’s now a nurse who works in Northampton, wrote about her marriage to Ives for the “Tiny Love Stories” of the New York Times. “I said, ‘I like you, I don’t mind continuing to see you, but I’m not ready to get married.’”

He proposed again a year later, and again, she said no. A year after that, said Fleming-Ives, seeming a little embarrassed, he proposed again, and she said yes. They got married in 1971 in Scotland and moved to the U.S. in 1975. They have four children, and although they live in Northampton for most of the year, they go back to Scotland for a month in the summer every year.

“I do still think the moon landing was a huge waste of resources,” Fleming-Ives said. “But I think there was sort of a sense of it being an awe-inspiring event that I probably didn’t allow myself to feel. What I’ve noticed now is that there was this communal sort of moment where everyone in the world was watching this happen. It wasn’t just an American event, it was an event for the entire world.”

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