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Old-fashioned romance kept them going strong

A shy man and a hardworking woman found love that endured through the Depression and more than three-quarters of a century in Illinois and Indiana.

LOVE ENDURES. Arthur and Olive Davidson are pictured in 1920 and 1996, having enjoyed a long and fruitful marriage.

The young love evident in the old photograph at right was expressed daily by my parents, Arthur and Olive Davidson. On the occasion of their 50th anniversary (more than a quarter century ago), Dad wrote a story titled “50 Years With Your Wonderful Mother” for his daughters. I’m delighted to share it with Reminisce readers:

“The first time I saw your mother was on a Sunday afternoon walk near Oak Park Cemetery west of Washington, Indiana. She was with a girlfriend from Shoals, Indiana, and a boy I knew from Washington. She appealed to me from the first. This was during December of 1918. We didn’t meet until early 1919, probably February.

(Click on images for larger versions)

“I knew her brother-in-law, since we both worked for the railroad. He told me that Olive was coming to visit them and that they were going to the revival at the Little Brick Church. He was sure she’d ride home with me if I asked her. I had a beautiful black horse and buggy then, and she did accept a ride. Later that year, she made more visits, and I was invited over for evening meals by her brother-in-law. Our friendship deepened.

“It was the summer of 1920 before I got up enough courage to meet her folks and stay for supper. I was pretty timid. Her dad called me ‘Kid,’ but I think he liked me from the first. By Christmas of 1920, I felt sure she was the gal for me, so I gave her a real nice wristwatch. On her birthday in 1921, I gave her a ring, and she was thrilled. I asked if she’d consider marrying me, and we agreed it would be best to wait until we were 21.

“We set the wedding date for Feb. 4, bought furniture and stored it in Dad’s summer kitchen. Then it was time to talk to Olive’s folks. After supper, with much clearing of my throat and a lot of fidgeting, I finally asked what they thought of Olive and me getting married…hastily explaining that we already had furniture and it would soon deteriorate if not used. They agreed, but her dad warned me to take good care of his girl.

“After the wedding ceremony, Olive’s mother served refreshments and some of the family remained for a big supper. I decided we needed some cigars, so I went to the barn, saddled a horse and went to town without telling anyone. When I got back, supper was waiting and some of the guests thought I’d gone for good! I decided from that time on I’d always tell my wife when I was leaving and where I was going.

“We faced the Depression together in Altamont, Illinois, and were lucky. I had my railroad job, and your mother took in roomers. She also worked part time at little jobs that helped us keep the house. She sold tickets at the theater. Remember how many free shows we got to see? On weekdays she’d walk to town and work an hour while the store owner went to lunch. Then she’d take the 25 cents she’d earned, buy food for our evening meal and walk home. What a woman!

“In summer of 1949, after 22 years in Altamont, the railroad sent us back to Washington, Indiana. Your mother again took this move in stride. After all these years with your mother, I can truthfully say that she is as dear to me as when she agreed to marry me. I am really thankful for my lot in life with her.”

By Billie Bond
Lake Alfred, Florida

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

yvonne June 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm

What a sweet, poignant story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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Curtis McRee June 12, 2011 at 8:14 am

A wonderful love story. I wish all marriages were like this one. I grew up in a one parent family. As I grew up I saw how much my Mother struggled to work and take care of 4 kids. I was born in Feb. of 1935. My father was never a husband or father to his kids. The way he lived, helped me to become the man and father I became to our 5 kids. I am now 76 and I am proud to say that I tried to be the best husband and Father possible. Both are full time jobs, both take full time commitments. Our 5 kids grew up and are now well adjusted parents of good kids.I have 9 Grandkids and 3 great-grandkids. God has been with me all of my life and I give him the Glory of keeping me and mine in line.

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CFJ June 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm

People who lived during these times really had challenges to survive. People nowadays do not face situations such as these. My parents lived through the Depression and always remembered the difficult times and enjoyed more prosperous times during the 1950s & 60s. I remember my older sisters talking about my Mother and Dad not eating so they could have something to eat.

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BOB June 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm

This is a beautiful story. I was never lucky in love having married and divorced twice. I am 67 and living alone. But I have an aunt and uncle who just recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. He is 91 and she is 87. They got married when she was 17. They are both in great physical shape except he has a touch of alzheimers.

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Amy W September 10, 2011 at 9:12 am

That story warmed my heart!

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Vicki Scaramuzzo October 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

What a beautiful couple!!!

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Elizabeth April 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm

A beautiful, loving story. We should all be so lucky.

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savtainsandiego July 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

What a heartwarming story. The writer’s parents’ generation had a strong work ethic and high level of morality and integrity. They didn’t expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. As with my own parents, their love matured after the wedding. We, fortunately, have had many marriages of long duration in my family (50+ years). It takes two special people to really care for, and about, each other, to meet life’s challenges. Congrats to all the long-marrieds.

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pattycakes September 19, 2013 at 2:02 am

what a wonderful story , im sure if everyone lived like this the world would be a much better place filled with love , congrats and love to all who lived like they were in love forever

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