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Couple marks milestone anniversary

POSTED: September 26, 2010 4:30 a.m.
/For The Times

A recent photograph of John and Evelyn Little. Since John's diagnosis of Alzheimer's, Evelyn has been coping with her inability to communicate with her spouse.

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"I wore a hat and gloves and we went to church for our first date. I don't remember what we did after church or why I was so dressed up. That was over 70 years ago."

Evelyn Rogers Little can't remember many of the tiny details about her courtship with John Henry, but she certainly can recall life's big moments.

The North Georgia couple recently celebrated an anniversary that few ever live to see - 70 years of marriage.

John Henry Little, 92 and Evelyn, 87, began their journey together in 1939 when Evelyn was only 17.

"We met at school. We both went to Chattahoochee High School in Clermont," said Evelyn.

"I had dated a few other boys, but they just weren't the one. My daddy wanted me to go on to college, but I said ‘no I'm gonna get married.'"

We dated a year and we waited until I finished school before we got married."

The wedding was about as modest as it gets.

"We were running a revival meeting at our church and we brought a friend as a witness, but the preacher had already left for a baptizing," said Evelyn.


"We drove down there to where he was and as soon as we pulled up,the preacher said ‘everybody gather round to unite this couple in marriage.' We didn't even get out of the car; he just did it right there.

"We went to church that night. We didn't know what a honeymoon was back then."

The Littles lived with Evelyn's parents for almost six months before her father gave them a small piece of land to farm.

Back then, said Evelyn, things were different.

"I never thought about doing anything else but staying together. We had to work harder back then. There just wasn't much money."

John and Evelyn worked together raising chickens and running a dairy.

Five children later, Evelyn said, and they've never looked back.

"We were compatible. I did what he wanted me to and he did what I wanted him to. We weren't the kind that went at it. We had good health and our kids were good."

Evelyn jokes about their five grandchildren. "They say they don't think they can make it that long."

Their trips around the country over the last 30 years are some of her fondest memories. They had a group of couples they got together with, but there aren't many of them left.

"We had a lot of fun, we didn't have a lot of money, but we had fun," she said.

 

Grin and bear it

Evelyn never thought much about backing out of the marriage.

"I got pregnant right away and I could have gone home, but I thought it was for better or worse. I can't say we never had an argument. If we had one, we didn't do it in front of the kids. You just have to grin and bear it."

There were plenty of hard times, too.

"I had back surgery when my daughter was 10 and I was down for a long time. That was hard. And when our son went off to Vietnam, that was a hard year. I had to put my mother in a nursing home that year, too.

"I guess we had a lot of low points, but we never did worry about it."

But of all the low points, Evelyn said right now is the hardest. John was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease three years ago.

"The doctor said ‘you've lost your mate.'"

"You can't communicate with him. As far as me coming home and telling him what happened that day - he's already gone.

"Of course he don't worry about nothing, I do all the worrying, so he'll out live me," Evelyn said with a laugh.

Evelyn's advice for couples today?

"You can't have your way in everything. There's give and take. He's never bossed me and we always worked together. I don't think we'd ever made it if we'd been the type to go at it all the time."

She said it doesn't seem possible that so much time has passed so quickly.

"It ain't been a bed of roses, but it hasn't been bad, either."

 



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