Albert and Joyce Hardison can often be found sitting on a wooden bench outside Grand Villa's front doors. They sit peacefully, letting the stifling April sun wash over them. They wait patiently for a soft breeze.
Born a year apart just outside Wilmington, NC, the Hardison's have known one another since the late 1940s. Time, like water over rock, has smoothed off their respective edges, forming one being.
"He was a smart ale. A showoff," Joyce said of her husband's behavior in the seventh grade.
Without much to do, other than hangout at the beach, the two developed a bond that has endured for the better part of sixty years.
After graduating high school, Albert moved down to Ft. Lauderdale and worked on a childhood friend's shrimping boat. He woke up with the sun and traveled along the contours of Florida. He spent a good deal of time in Key West.
"I liked it there," he said.
Eventually Albert and Joyce bought a house in Ft. Lauderdale and became neighbors with his childhood friend. They began their life together.
"We bought our house for $9700, with $200 down. I used my childhood savings," Joyce said, "I got a job at Sears."
After graduating high school, Joyce studied business in college.
It was not to last, however.
Albert's job at the plant reopened and the couple returned to their native home town. Although the job at the plant didn't last and Albert later worked as a real estate agent, the couple lived there until last January.
The Hardison's recently relocated to Largo to be near their daughter, who has six children.
The home in Wilmington has a plethora of memories. It was there that Albert began his dirt road stock car driving. Despite his calm demeanor, he has a great passion was racing stock cars on half mile dirt tracks. The prospect of swerving around a circular track did not inspire fear. In fact, he was only scared once.
"I burned a car up once. I developed a lot of respect for fire," he said.
Their house was also where the couple raised their children.
"I miss my house," Joyce said, "But I do not miss the cold winters."