Barb was in the quiet halls of the UNH library studying with her friend Susie as she decided to take a break at the sunny spots by the windows. As she was observing the herds of college students scrambling to get to their classes, she spotted him. Mark Milliken. The man she would eventually marry.
ORHS’ unofficial school mom and dad, Barbara and Mark Milliken, have been married since 1986. To get more juicy details on how the two Millikens met, what their first date was like, and how they eventually got married, I sat down with them and asked them to walk me through their relationship.
Barb first knew of Mark back in her freshman year as the boy who would walk into her English class late every day. She saw him around campus and they shared a couple classes but it wasn’t until their senior year of college that they officially met. While neither of them could recall how exactly the two of them met, they do remember distinct details of the beginning of their relationship.
How did you guys first meet and what were your first impressions of each other?
Barb: I just remember seeing him but we met in the fall of our senior year [of college]…[My friends and I] called him my little cutie. I remember I used to find him [around campus]. I remember one time I was on the third floor of the library and I was taking a break and standing at a window with my friend and we saw him walking from Ham Smith. He was coming and he had on these red or pinkish Levis and he’s walking.I was like ‘oh my god Susie! There he is, there he is!’ We ran downstairs and hid in a phone booth and when he walked by us we were like ‘hi!’ So, there were a lot of “stalking moments” as he [Mark] would say, but I don’t think it was stalking.
Mark: It was stalking. But anyways, I don’t remember how it started. Like I don’t remember the English class.
Barb: Well you remember the English class…just I was not memorable is really what you are saying.
Mark: No I’m not, no I’m not. So I remember seeing you and liking you. And when I was at a Halloween party and I was just trying to get the courage to say hi and she took off in a tandem [bike].
Barb: No! You are getting it all wrong!
Mark: And then I found out she went to see this guy.
Barb: No! Here is the story!
Mark: His name was Duck.
Barb: His real name was Donald, but his nickname was Duck which is even worse. But, [Mark] came up to me and we talked at the party and then someone showed up with a tandem-
Mark: Oh! So, I did get the courage to talk to you.
Barb: Yeah, we talked! So, then my roommate and I took off on the tandem to go to the Stone Church.
Mark: To see Duck.
Barb: Yes. But the tandem we rode made me sick. We were riding it so fast I got sick. So, I went home and went to bed.
While both Barb and Mark had different versions of how they first knew of each other, the first time they actually had a real conversation was through their mutual friend, Marriane, who would eventually become both of their sister-in-laws. After weeks and weeks of communicating through rumors of who liked who, Barb and Mark eventually went on their first date.
What was your first date like?
Barb: We found out that there was a mutual interest and that went on for some time.
Mark: It’s like middle school, “oh I heard this, oh I heard someone likes you.”
Barb: So, we both knew that this was happening… I was leaving a Peace Corp meeting to go to a class and there he was walking out of the library with his journal in his hand. So, we talked and that was when he asked if I wanted to go downtown to get a beer and it was the first class I had skipped in my entire life.
Mark: See what a positive influence I am!
Barb: Even better! He had no money! I had to pay! But that was our first date and we were together every day after that. And so the next day he showed up and I was studying in the library and he wanted to know if I wanted to have a beer and guess what he didn’t have again? Money! So, he had to go into the restaurant next door to borrow money from our now sister-in-law… Why did I not realize he was a red flag!
From then, Barb and Mark’s relationship bloomed and spent lots of time with each other while still taking their relationship slowly. Fast forward about three years, Mark proposed to Barb while on a trip up in Maine.
How did Mark propose?
Mark: My mom owns a cabin on a lake so my plan was that Barb and I would sleep at the cabin or the camp which is what we called it.
Barb: In two different beds!
Mark: Of course. Yes. Right. That’s right. I forgot about that part…. I was going to wake up at sunrise because the sunrise is right over the lake. I had written a poem but in the middle of the night, my younger brother broke into the camp. He had been celebrating… shall we say, and he broke into the camp. Well, ‘broke in’ but he lifted a window and crawled in. And he had someone with him who turned out to be our sister-in-law!
Barb: The same one that gave us the money!
Mark: So, that ruined my plans for that morning and I didn’t know what to do. I grew up in a house on a hill called Deer Hill and behind our house is a hill. You can go to the top and there is a rock you can sit on and look out. So, that was Plan B and we went up there and sat on the rock, and I got out my journal and read my proposal. And then she said yes!
About a year later, Mark and Barb got married on July 12th, 1986 at a church and their reception took place at the base of Mount Cranmore. The wedding took lots of planning so the wedding day itself was a day for them to relax and enjoy their time together. While the two of them still had the wedding day nerves, they were able to get past them and have a wonderful time. Mark explained that the highlight of the night was when his friend brought his old car that had a rumble seat in the back and both Mark and Barb were able to ride it. The events following their wedding were just as exciting, as they were able to spend some time at the same place Mark initially proposed.
What was your wedding like?
Mark: I grew up in the sticks so my groomsmen were-
Barb: He had a groomsmen who wore a yellow construction hat!
Mark: Actually it was stainless steel. But there was a real culture clash [at the wedding]. I think Madam was also really worried about the behavior of my friends.
Barb: Oh, I was really worried about the behavior of his friends.
Mark: But I think we all ended up having a really great time!
Sitting down with the Millikens gave me a good laugh and I can officially say they are truly the school mom and dad.