They married on October 25, 1928.
He was twenty-one years old, going on twenty-two. She was nineteen. He was a fun-loving, adventurous, hard-working, and frugal young man. She was a hard-working, frugal young woman who had little time for adventure. As for fun, she often warned, “Never laugh before breakfast!” as she worried around the kitchen preparing that meal.
Some might have thought the two were incompatible, and should never enter into marriage, but they were in love. They were determined to persevere in that love.
They had no pre-nuptial agreement, but she attached one condition to acceptance of his proposal. He must promise to try a spoonful of everything she ever cooked. You see, she had a major in Home Economics and loved cooking. He liked to eat only a handful of things: fried chicken, potatoes, corn, and apple pie.
So much in love was he, however, that he agreed. It was difficult, but he persevered in holding to his pre-marriage promise.
Just one year after their wedding, on Thursday, October 24 1929, panic selling occurred in the United States stock market, and it crashed. They celebrated their wedding anniversary on the first day of the Great Depression. Life became difficult, with little money, but both persevered and refused to give in.
Over the next eleven years, they had three children, and began building a house. He was not a builder by trade, but money was tight, so he taught himself as he went. By hand, he dug out a deep, full basement for the house.
And then, as he began the next step, they learned that one of the children urgently needed ear surgery. In those days before health insurance, the only way to raise money for the surgery was to sell the land with its neatly dug basement. They sold it, but persevered in their dreams and plans for a home of their own.
The U.S. entered World War II on December 8, 1941, and their dream of building a house for their family of five seemed doomed to become a war victim. Both he and she continued to work hard, saving every penny they could.
A fourth baby was stillborn, and they grieved over the tiny son – but persevered in their commitment to one another.
When the war ended, the couple worked harder than ever to save for a house. The old duplex in which they lived seemed to shrink by the day. With three growing children, it was difficult to make ends meet, let alone put aside money for a house, but they exercised perseverance.
Finally, there was enough one spring for a mortgage on land across the street from the first building effort.
Once more, he dug out a basement by hand. Then he began construction of a modest house.
Each day, after walking a mile to and from work; after working an eight-hour day at the Corning Glass Works; after eating his evening meal; he walked to the building site and did as much as he could before dark. After dark, he studied to learn the construction techniques he needed. The following day, he used those techniques in the next building step.
Neither he nor she believed it was right to use credit, so they persevered in belt-tightening so they could pay cash for building supplies.
Electricity and plumbing for the new house required professionals, for which they paid out more cash.
Over the next months, they both exercised perseverance in every phase of building that house, moving their family into it, and making it a home. They continued to persevere in saving to pay the mortgage.
They persevered in loving one another, too. It didn’t matter that the house took his time, leaving her to care entirely for the children. It didn’t matter that they had to forego entertainment and even small luxuries that others enjoyed.
They had promised to love one another until death, and they persevered in that as in everything else. They celebrated anniversaries: 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th, and even the 60th.
He died first, but never once did either he or she fail to persevere in their love and faithfulness.
My father-in-law and mother-in-law (the couple in this story) exercised perseverance unto death. I respect them highly for that great trait of character.
I thank them for instilling that character trait into my husband.