On the day of her 49th wedding anniversary, Jeanette Schumacher was instructed by her husband Arthur to sit in the living room of their home in Raleigh, N.C., with her eyes closed. By the time she opened her eyes, she was surrounded by over 150 bundles of $1 bills, towering on her lap and by her feet.
Arthur Schumacher told his wife the stacks totaled $17,885, amounting to one dollar for each day the couple has been married.
"I forgot leap year so I guess I owe you," Arthur told his wife.
Getting the gift was no easy feat. Arthur Schumacher spent most of the day, April 7, filling a Coleman cooler and a large cardboard box with bundles of $1 bills, emptying three banks for their supply of singles, including traveling 40 miles to a bank in Wilson, N.C., and dodging his wife's inquiries about his whereabouts.
"I'm not supposed to be driving right now, so my daughter was driving me and my wife was asking me 'what are you doing?' And I just said, don't worry I'll be back," he told ABC News.
Their love story dates back five decades to December 1958 when somebody gave Arthur Schumacher a girl named Jeanette's number to call. The blind date ended up being a success. "The first time I saw her, I thought she was beautiful, I thought she was great," he recalls.
The romance continued even after he joined the Army and left to go overseas. Four years later, 19-year-old Jeanette sent her boyfriend an airplane ticket to come back from Germany to see her during his 30-day leave. Within a month, both their lives had changed forever.
"Before the 30 days were up, I said let's get married," Arthur Schumacher told ABC News.
Jeanette wore her sister's wedding dress. To celebrate, Arthur bought a 1953 Chevrolet and took them to honeymoon in Montana. After completing the six months of service he had left in the Army, the newlyweds settled in Aberdeen, S.D., where they led a rambunctious lifestyle.
"You name it, we did it. We raced around different race tracks in South Dakota. We did a lot of crazy things, we partied a lot and raised a lot of heck," Arthur Schumacher said.
A few years later the couple began to run Walmarts nationwide. The Schumachers raised three children while moving through three different states. They now have three grandchildren.
In 2005, Arthur Schumacher was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer and had to go through several chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as well as have five surgeries on his face. The doctors gave him two years to live, but he has pushed on to nearly six with Jeanette's help.
"She's a real encouragement to me in making sure I do what the doctors say I should," he said. "Everytime I see the doctor he says 'you amaze me.'"
With the money now back in the bank, Arthur Schumacher looks forward to seeing how his wife will choose to spend the gift.
"Maybe we'll take a cruise," he said.
Sounds like a perfect 50th anniversary celebration.