Couple’s love memorialized at favorite dining spot

Posted Monday, Aug. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Harlan and Inez Jewett shared three loves: Grapevine, barbecue and each other.

Harlan taught industrial arts at Grapevine schools for nearly three decades with perfect attendance. Inez, a lifelong resident, worked at the Tarrant County Courthouse for 32 years. The busy couple, married nearly 63 years, found time almost every Saturday to dine on the mini-chicken breast plate at Bartley’s Bar-B-Q.

“They became part of the family,” said Lynn Owens, the owner. “Harlan was almost like a dad. You always looked forward to seeing them.”

Owens said the couple always sat in the same table across from one another. So when Inez died on Feb. 11, 2009, the restaurant memorialized her by hanging her photo above her empty seat.

“Harlan would come and look at his wife’s picture while he ate,” said Shane Wilkinson, the restaurant’s manager. “He was still friendly, but he was very sad. She was his world.”

When Harlan died on Sept. 2, the staff hung his photo on the wall next to his wife’s.

The Jewett’s love story began in 1945 when Harlan and a fellow soldier were hitchhiking from Fort Worth Army Air Field to Dallas to attend church. Unsuccessful, they stopped at a church in Arlington, then decided to take a long route home, winding up in Grapevine.

Inez Davis and a friend, Mary Yates, saw them hitchhiking by the side of the road. But instead of stopping, they went to Yates’ home and sat out front in lawn chairs hoping the men would walk by.

“The fellows walked over to us, pretending to be following a crippled robin,” Inez said in her memoirs.

Highlights of the day included singing at the piano and driving to Coppell to see the springtime bluebonnets.

The courtship continued when Harlan received orders to go to Japan in 1945. He returned to the states and was discharged the following year.

“He bought a 1935 Buick and headed for Texas, arriving at my back door on May 1, 1946. We were married on June 15, 1946,” Inez wrote.

Wilkinson, the restaurant manager, said the restaurant has plenty of regulars, but the Jewetts were special. The couple never varied their order and Harlan always had the correct amount “down to the penny,” he said.

But their acquaintance went far beyond that of manager and customers.

“I told him my grandmother was dying of leukemia and he built a birdhouse for her so she could look at the birds,” Wilkinson said. “He cared about us like we were family.”

Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367

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