Ed Grisamore

There’s a delightful reason why Macon couple will never forget one another’s birthday

Paul Wellborn has never forgotten his wife’s birthday.

He doesn’t have to tie a string around his finger to remind him. There is no need to stick a note on the refrigerator door.

As long as he can remember his own birthday, there is no danger of ending up in the doghouse.

Jane and Paul Wellborn will celebrate another trip around the sun on Wednesday, five days after the first day of summer.

The Macon couple, who have been married 56 years, not only share the same birthday but the same birth date. They were born on June 26, 1940. It, too, was a Wednesday.

There is a mystery surrounding which is older and can pull rank. Jane’s birth certificate lists her birth time as 11:05 a.m. But a blank space is next to the time of birth on Paul’s certificate, so he can only speculate.

“I always say it was later, so I can say I married an older woman,’’ he said, laughing.

Despite living in the same city and attending high schools a block from each other, it took 18 years before their paths crossed.

They now have been celebrating birthdays together since their first date 60 years at the Pig & Whistle in the fall of 1959.

Jane was born at the old “clinic’’ on Walnut Street, the daughter of Sidney and Janie Simmons. She was the youngest of the three Simmons children. She had two older brothers, Sid and Harry. Her father, who owned Sid’s Café in downtown Macon, died when she was 9.

She attended the Whittle School, at the foot of Coleman Hill, before she went to Miller High School for Girls.

She has lived in the same house on Spring Street her entire life, except for six months when she and Paul were newlyweds, and he was finishing his degree at Georgia Tech.

Paul was born in Tampa, Florida, the second of Paul Frederick and Ida Grace Wellborn’s four children. His father worked for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co., better known as the A&P grocery.

The family moved to Macon when Paul was 1 year old, after his father took a job pumping gas for the Southeastern Pipeline. (They lived on Carroll Avenue, off Hillcrest, and later moved out to Arkwright Road, along the river, when Paul was in the 10th grade.)

He went to elementary school at Pearl Stephens, where he was classmates with Phil Walden, the co-founder of Capricorn Records. He then went to Lanier High for Boys.

Although Lanier and Miller were large schools, and were segregated by gender, the Wellborns can’t explain why they were like two ships passing in the night.

They were in the same combined yearbook. They attended the same football games and went to the same dances.

After high school, Paul enrolled at Georgia Tech to study engineering. Jane attended business school and was hired at a local accounting firm. Jane was dating one of Paul’s fraternity brothers, who gave Paul a ride home to Macon one afternoon and they stopped by Jane’s house.

They were introduced the wide front porch on the hill at Spring Street, surrounded by century-old houses and church steeples.

“I wish I could say it was love at first sight, but it wasn’t,’’ Jane said. It took time for the sparks to start flying. They went on their first date at the beginning of Paul’s sophomore year.

They drove to the Pig & Whistle, ordered the “Pig Special,’’ and Paul asked her to Tech’s homecoming game the following weekend. They dated off and on for the next four years — Paul’s fraternity pin came back like a boomerang several times — and married on March 23, 1963.

They lived in an apartment in Atlanta for a few months until Paul graduated, then moved into the house with Jane’s mother and never left. The house was built in 1896 and has been in Jane’s family since 1920.

Their son, Pete, was born in 1964, and daughter, Summer, five years later.

In the personality department, Jane is friendly and outgoing. Paul is more reserved.

“They are proof that opposites attract,’’ said Summer, a kindergarten teacher at Southfield Elementary in Bibb County. “Same birthday, same year but they are night and day.”

They’ve always celebrated their birthdays together by sharing a cake with both names written on it. The extended family usually gathers in the large Victorian house their granddaughter, Maggie, who is now working on Wall Street in New York, started calling the “Big House” when she was a little girl.

When Paul and Jane turned 65 in 2005, their children through them a big party at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Other than that, the Wellborns keep their birthdays simple and low-key.

When you share a life together, you don’t mind sharing a birthday.

Ed Grisamore teaches journalism at Stratford Academy in Macon. His column appears on Sundays in The Telegraph.