The next morning she was in her office bright and early. At 7:15 a.m. her secretary came in and said, "Senator O'Brien is here to see you. You must have made quite an impression on him last night."
He came in, shut the door and said, "I invited you to go the Shelby County reception, but I've been thinking about that. With my vote on lieutenant governor and your brother being governor, well, I think it would be embarrassing." That's what Charles said, but Anna Belle thought he had a cute young thing lined up and wanted out of the date.
In classic Anna Belle fashion she told him, "Senator, you don't know me well, but when information is spread about me that is not true, it doesn't worry me. I did not know you at that time and had nothing to do with your vote. Therefore, I will expect you next Tuesday at 3:30 p.m." And that was the beginning of a beautiful romance. When he proposed in 1966, it was a particularly busy time for Anna Belle, so he made all the arrangements, even what she would wear. They were married on Nov. 9, at the Union Avenue Baptist Church in Memphis.
One day in the early '60s, Anna Belle, while serving as receptionist in the governor's office, saw a senator with a beautiful tan and commented that he must have been to Florida. To her surprise, he said it was not Florida but Lake Tansi. He told her about the nice cabins, reasonable rates and beautiful scenery. So about eight single girls began vacationing at Lake Tansi. It was the third year of the development by Cosby Harrison and they were practically giving away lots since not many had been sold. She bought a lot and built a small cabin. Her daddy came up with her and remarked, "You have always saved your money and wanted to build a little house like this, and if it suits you, fine, but you couldn't give it to me." She guesses the gravel road down to the lot didn't help matters. Three other girl friends bought lots close by. After Anna Belle and Charles married, they moved to Lake Tansi Village in 1967 and enlarged the cabin. She was thrilled because she never expected to be able to move to Tansi, a place she dearly loved. Charles opened a little law office in Crossville. They joined the Homestead Baptist Church. She couldn't sit around and do nothing, so she joined the Chamber of Commerce, the Democrat women and the Mental Health Association (included Hilltopper's and Kids, Inc.). After seven years, Charles said everywhere he went parents of kids wanted Anna Belle to run for public office. She said she wanted their marriage to work. Charles said it was part of her life — she believed in helping kids and he thought she ought to consider it. He realized she would be gone a lot and he might regret it, but he thought she should run. Then he told her, "Your biggest problem is being a woman. They have never had a woman from up here in the state legislature. You will just have to work hard; be a good loser if you lose; don't let it affect you." She didn't lose. She was elected to serve a two-year term in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Later, when she ran for the senate, she had a sign made for the top of her car, "About our district she will tell, Let's elect Miss Anna Belle." One day on the campaign trail she heard some men talking, "Hear Mrs. O'Brien is a nice lady, but we don't need a woman senator." They didn't have any idea she would campaign in garages, beer joints, pool halls, etc. She worked hard and they misjudged how hard she would work. She says she was never negative but dwelled on the positive.