Forbidden Love

Patsy Ewing and Ed Luna got married in 1956, and were one of very few interracial couples in Temple at the time. Patsy, who later served three terms on the Temple City Council and was known as a champion for city parks, said the couple had to leave town on dates and after they were married, they still faced obstacles not presented to single-race families of the day.

Interracial couple drove to Waco, Cameron for dates instead of risking being seen in Temple


Today is Valentine’s Day — a day of romance and great joy — but here’s a tale of a forbidden love that was a Temple secret for years. 

It’s the story of a 1950’s era interracial couple and the hardships they endured while honoring the “for better or worse” commitment made at their wedding.

Patsy Ewing was a white girl, born and raised in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it community of Oenaville, just northeast of Temple. 

“I’m a country girl,” she said this week. “I grew up running up and down Big Elm Creek. I went to Temple High School, and that’s where I met the love of my life.”

Edward Luna was a year younger than Patsy, but he managed to catch her eye.

“Ed played football and was one of the stars of the team,” Patsy remembered. “I was in the band, and I remember sitting in the stands on game night watching him play. Actually, I would stare at him — he had great legs. I guess what I first noticed about him was his athleticism.”

“We really didn’t date in high school, but we were friends. We both hung out at the Temple Recreation Center playing basketball, volleyball and other games,” she said. “Eventually he asked me out, and I knew my family wouldn’t be pleased. But, I said yes. Still, we had to keep it a secret — white girls and Hispanic boys just didn’t date back then.”

Patsy was right. Saying her family wasn’t pleased would be a definite understatement. The relationship was forbidden.

“We still dated,” Patsy said, “but not in Temple. It was a big no-no back then. If we went out to eat or to a movie, we would drive to Cameron or Waco where people didn’t know us.”

Patsy and Edward got married in 1956, a year after her father passed away.

“Mom also was opposed to the marriage at first, but once she got to know Ed, she fell in love with him, too. His family wasn’t happy at first either because I was white and not a Catholic. I took a class at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and converted to Catholicism. That helped.”

Their secret was out, and many in Temple took exception to the new couple. Patsy and Ed faced obstacles at every life turn because of their varying shades of skin color.

“Right before we got married, we found a house we wanted to rent,” Patsy said. “It needed work, and we agreed over the phone that we would paint the exterior and do some repairs in exchange for the first month’s rent.  We were working on the house — it was just three days before the wedding — and the landlord stopped by. He looked at Ed and shouted: ‘The deal is off, I’m not renting to a Mexican.’”

“Fortunately, we found another house where the landlord wasn’t concerned about race.”

Patsy said that incident was the first of many racial obstacles the couple would encounter.

“When our daughter Catherine was 4, I signed her up for a free dance class sponsored by a local insurance company,” she said. “I took her to practice every day and got to know the folks running the class, and when it ended they had a dance recital. Ed and I went, but the next day I was approached by a man from the insurance company who said Catherine couldn’t attend classes anymore because her father was Mexican.”

Patsy had two long careers, and she worked both jobs concurrently. For 31 years she was a secretary at the Olin E. Teague Veterans Center in Temple, the last few years as secretary to the VA’s local director. She also worked for local physician Jack Weinblatt every weekday evening for 45 years.

“Jack would dictate and I would type up a summary of his day and the patients he had seen,” she said. “He was a wonderful man, and it was a great job.”

One day while working at the VA, Patsy was telling co-workers about the house she and Ed had recently purchased and was describing the home’s location. A man who overheard the conversation turned and said, “Congratulations, but isn’t your house near where that Mexican moved in?”

“I was shocked,” Patsy said. “I told him: It sure is, and I sleep with that Mexican every night.”

Eventually the criticism ended and hate was overshadowed by the Lunas’ love for their community and their friendly spirit.

Patsy later ran for City Council and served for three terms from 2002 to 2009 as mayor pro tem. She was a champion for the parks and led improvement efforts at Hamilton Park, Jackson Park and the Wilson Park Recreation Center. 

“One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of is putting in the city’s first splash pad at Ferguson Park,” she said. “My family loved that park. We lived on the Eastside, and every time we drove past the park our three kids wanted to stop and play. Sometimes, Ed would stop, but if he was tired he would say, ‘Sorry, kids, the park seems to be closed.’ We still joke about that today.”

“Ed worked for Montgomery Wards for 40 years until the company shut down their Temple store,” she said. “He drove their delivery truck — he really didn’t like being stuck in the store. He liked being out and about meeting people. He was a wonderful employee, husband and father. He was so courteous to everyone.”

“We were married 58 years, and everyone told us it wouldn’t work because we had different colored skin. People who I thought were my friends never spoke to me again, but that’s OK. I just replaced them with new friends.”

Ed died in 2015, but for Patsy, his memory lives on.

“I miss him every day, and so do our children. He was a gentleman, and it showed. Ed was the love of my life.”

Patsy and Ed Luna hold hands as he passed away in 2015 in this image captured by former daughter-in-law De Conlin. De named the photo “True Love Never Dies.”

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