Augie Ruiz and Mary Perez were visiting relatives in Illinois at Christmastime in 1965 when they were fixed up on a blind date.
They saw the new James Bond movie “Thunderball” and went on a few more dates before Ruiz, a Navy sailor, embarked on his next tour of duty, and Perez boarded a bus home to San Francisco.
They promised to write to each other — which they did, beginning a romance that unfolded through letters they exchanged during the next two years.
“The entire courtship was by mail,” said Ruiz, now a USPS strategic communications specialist for Pacific Area.
Ruiz received Perez’s letters in bunches, tied with rubber bands. He always arranged the envelopes by postmark date before opening them.
“I wanted to make sure I read them in the order she wrote them,” he said. “Little did I know that years later I would be working for the organization that invented the postmark.”
Because Ruiz was away at sea, he didn’t get to mail letters to Perez as often as he would have liked. She checked her mailbox daily, and sometimes didn’t hear from him for months at a time.
“But when I did get a letter from him, it was like getting 10 letters at once because he would date and time each page as he had time to write something down. He said it was ‘a captain’s log of the heart,’” she said.
About a year after they began corresponding, Ruiz wrote to Perez and asked her to marry him. She wrote back with an enthusiastic yes.
“It was the first pitch letter I wrote,” said Ruiz, whose job often involves “pitching” news reporters on stories about USPS.
In October 1967, the couple came face to face again for the first time since their initial dates almost two years earlier. They walked down the aisle later that week.
Fifty years, three children and five grandchildren later, the written word remains important to the Ruizes, who live in the San Jose, CA, area. He still writes her letters and gives her cards to mark milestones and holidays — including Valentine’s Day, one of the couple’s favorites.
They often reminisce about how it all began.
Said Ruiz: “It was a blind date that turned into blind faith, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the mail.”