LONDONDERRY, N.H. -- The pair of worn, wood-and-metal auditorium seats don't go with the decor in Tom and Mary Thibodeau's home.

"Especially with the gum stuck underneath," Mary Thibodeau said with a laugh.

The couple, Dracut natives married for 43 years, don't yet know what, exactly, they're going to do with the chairs, salvaged from the recently demolished Dracut Senior High School auditorium. Still, both say they're happy to own the seats where they sat at a Valentine's Day dance in 1968, the night they would later come to think of as their anniversary.

Mary still has the heart-shaped program from that dance, with "The night I met Tommy" scrawled on the front in blue pen. It lists the songs performed by the school chorus. Neither remembers hearing the music.

"I must have been too busy looking at you," Tom told his wife Sunday afternoon, as they sat in the chairs, temporarily placed on their front lawn.

They do, however, remember where they were sitting: R19 and R20.

At a choral concert in the high-school auditorium last year, the Thibodeaus made a point of finding the same seats. A relative snapped a photo, now framed in their New Hampshire house, and the memory got the attention of their son-in-law, Mike Tang, a fellow Dracut High alum.

Tang contacted Andy Graham, the Dracut School Department's supervisor of buildings and grounds, who arranged to have the seats removed and put aside.

"There's a lot of memories to come out of that auditorium," Graham said.


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"This is just one of them."

Tom Thibodeau, who had graduated two years earlier, said he had to be convinced to go to the dance that night, but his friend, Ness Patenude, eventually managed to talk him into it.

And Mary Berube, a senior sitting with her friends, knew that was her chance with the boy she'd gone out on a date with once before, the previous October.

"I just screamed right over to come," she said. "They were walking in the door and they came in and sat down.

Tom and Mary Thibodeau of Londonderry, N.H., sit in chairs, salvaged from the Dracut High School auditorium, in which they sat during a Valentine s Day
Tom and Mary Thibodeau of Londonderry, N.H., sit in chairs, salvaged from the Dracut High School auditorium, in which they sat during a Valentine s Day dance in 1968. Their son-in-law asked school officials to save the seats for their sentimental value during renovations at the school. Mary holds a heart-shaped program she saved from that dance. SUN/KATIE LANNAN
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Tom drove her home that night. Two years later, they got married, with Patenude as their best man.

Four kids and more than four decades later, they still think of that auditorium as a special spot.

Tom admits he doesn't remember their very first date like Mary does.

"But for some reason, it started in those seats," he said. "It's all crystal-clear to me. From that point on, I remember it."

Follow Katie Lannan on Twitter @katielannan.