Married in Secret

The Texas Story Project.

“I was scared to tell her father because I thought he was going to kill me!” 

Ernest Romero is 78 years old and was born in August of 1941. His parents were divorced so he lived with his grandmother until he graduated from high school in 1959. His sister lived with their other grandparents and their brother lived in an orphanage. From there he worked at a grocery store for a few years starting as a bagger and working his way up to the position of manager before the chain closed down. After this he worked a series of odd jobs before working at USAA.

When Ernest was 21 he and his girlfriend Juanita, who was 17 at the time, decided to get married. However, Juanita was still in high school so they had no time to get married, or so they thought initially. One day Ernest picked up Juanita from school in San Antonio and drove to the small town of Lockhart, Texas and got married by a Justice of the Peace. After this they drove back to San Antonio and Ernest’s girlfriend, now wife, Juanita went back to school because the school day was not yet over. 

No one besides themselves knew they were married until six months went by and Juanita had finally graduated from high school. Now was the time for the secret to be revealed. Ernest told his parents and they were okay with the marriage. Then Ernest and his father drove to Juanita’s house to inform her father of the marriage. Ernest was very nervous. “I was scared to tell her father because I thought he was going to kill me!” Ernest remarked. However, Juanita’s father understood that they loved each other and he, too, was okay with the marriage.  

After this Ernest got a job at USAA as an account executive doing sales and service with the life insurance, automobile insurance, and home industries. After this he worked for the investment management company. Ernest retired in the year 2000, about 20 years ago. Even though their marriage was not traditional and there was no ceremony for the marriage, Ernest and Juanita were and still are very happy together. They are very happy about the fact that they have been married for 57 years. They are proud of this fact because there are some marriages that do not last and they are happy to say that theirs is not one of them. Together they have 3 children (one of whom is my mother), 5 grandchildren (of whom I am one, along with my brother), and 5 great-grandchildren. “I guess that’s my life story. It may not sound very interesting, but it’s the story of a common man you might say.” I am very happy to have the privilege of calling Ernest and Juanita Romero my grandparents.  


Marco Sanchez is a freshman at St. Mary’s University majoring in Forensic Science (Biology). He is from San Antonio, Texas and enjoys history. By working on this project with his grandfather, Marco found a new appreciation for his home state of Texas.

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