RALEIGH — On his 49th wedding anniversary, Art Schumacher fished out the Coleman cooler he'd stashed in a closet and told his beloved Jeanette to close her eyes.
He had a surprise.
While Jeanette waited in the living room of their North Raleigh home, Art pulled out bundles of $1 bills and stacked them in her lap, building a pile to her neck. When the cooler was empty, he pulled more greenbacks from a cardboard box and built a tower around Jeanette's feet.
And when she opened her eyes to find herself surrounded by cash, Art explained that his gift totaled $17,885 — one bill for each day of their marriage.
"Well," Art said, "I figured you were worth a dollar a day. I forgot leap year. So I guess I owe you."
It took three banks and most of a day for Art to withdraw enough bills to fill an ice chest and a box big enough to mail a dozen textbooks. He drove clear to Wilson to find a branch with enough ones on hand.
But he figures it's a modest payment for half a century's companionship — a union that started in the middle of Art's wild-man youth, lasted through five decades in 12 states, and saw Art defy two doctor's predictions that he wouldn't live to see 70.
"You're my sweetheart, honey," said Art, very definitely 70. "No doubt about that."
Jeanette, 68, sifted through the fortune in her lap and asked, "Do I have to take it back?"
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