What’s the secret to finding the one? For Christa and Mert Reynolds, it was an invitation on a blind date. Mert was an American airman stationed at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany at the time and Christa was a Berliner who was born in Nazi Germany. It was an unlikely matchup and one that almost didn’t happen.
In 1958, Christa’s friend had to drag her away from Berlin and down to Ramstein. Her friend was meeting her boyfriend and didn’t want to go alone, so after some prodding, Christa reluctantly agreed to tag along on the blind date. It was then that she met Mert. Although she struggled to speak English, the two felt enough of a connection to keep in touch after the date ended. For a year, Mert and Christa wrote and visited whenever they could. It was through this correspondence that Christa learned English. At one point, Mert and Christa broke up. When one of Christa’s friends told her she was working in the American Legion in Kaiserslautern, she casually mentioned, “If you see Mert, say hi from me, please.” She didn’t think that would happen since Mert rarely went to the American Legion. But, that fateful night, he did. And when he heard that Christa said hello their love story was rekindled.
As the two grew closer together, they decided it was time for Mert to meet her parents. When Christa showed up with an American soldier in uniform, her mother was a little taken aback because only a few years earlier, the Americans had been dropping bombs on her country. Still, Mert’s introduction was highly anticipated – so much so that Christa’s father bought an expensive bottle of cognac for the occasion. When Mert rang the doorbell, the cat knocked the cognac to the floor, so no one could imbibe the celebratory drink. This made for a less-than-joyous introduction. Still, the lovebirds continued to talk and eventually, Mert proposed. “Getting married to a foreigner was quite a routine back then,” Mert said. She had to go through rigid medical exams, background investigations, and more. When the wedding finally happened, it was without pomp and ceremony. They were married by the German equivalent of a Justice of the Peace on a Friday and Mert went back to work on Monday.
Mert was 23 when he proposed to Christa and for their first 14 years of marriage, they and their two children moved all over the world living in
England, Taiwan, Hawaii, Germany, Maine, and more. They had two kids together during this time. Whenever they came back to the United States, they seemed to find themselves in cold parts of the country, such as Nebraska, Iowa, Maine, and Ohio. When Mert got assigned to Tucson, Arizona, he knew it was home. He was happy to have a warm assignment and he immediately drove his stake into the ground. They haven’t looked back since.
Christa worked for Sears for the credit department for 27-years and is the author of Born to War, a book that recounts her experience as a child living in Berlin during World War II. Mert started his own business after retiring from the air force at 37. Today, both Mert, 81, and Christa, 78, are happily retired and living in Rita Ranch with their two dogs. They have five grandchildren and one great grandchild – and after 58 years of marriage, they couldn’t be happier.