Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Long-Married Couples Endure for Better, for Worse, for Life

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Long-Married Couples Endure for Better, for Worse, for Life

Article excerpt

It's June, a month of love, promise and numerous nuptials.

While many marriages don't necessarily have happily-everafter endings, some couples stay together. And according to three couples whose marriages have lasted decades, part of the secret was perseverance.

Doing without was a common theme in interviewing three couples wed in the waning years of the Great Depression and tested by the fires of World War II.

THE BELLS

Leland Bell, 87, and Janette Bell, 83, met at First Baptist Church Sunday school on Easter 1937. "He sort of swept me away," Janette Bell said.

They dated but waited until 1939 to marry, when Leland Bell could get a job with a decent wage, working as a salesman for Jacksonville Paper Co.

Leland Bell refers to those as "poor biscuit days." He asked: "How are you going to separate when you need both of you to get along? We had to stick together to live. It was that hard."

Leland Bell recalls that he came home from his traveling sales territory to find greetings from Uncle Sam and news that his wife was pregnant with their first son.

Bell served as a seaman aboard a forward refueling tanker in the Pacific. Janette Bell moved in with her mother and gave birth to the baby while he was off fighting in the war. The baby was 2 when he came home.

Leland Bell made a deeper commitment to their marriage when he got home from the war. He had spent the first three years of their marriage traveling far from Jacksonville selling paper, and the next three years in the Pacific. His former boss offered to let him have his old territory back, but he refused it.

"I told him I had promised the good Lord that if he would let me live through this war, I would come home and stay home with my family," Bell said. "I would dig ditches before I would go away."

Bell's decision was rewarded. He was given a Jacksonville territory that he built into a fortune. They couple live in a riverfront home in San Marco they bought in 1952.

THE SELDONS

Bruce Seldon, 85, and Marguerite Seldon, 80, met in June 1938 while walking on Kings Road. He had graduated from Edward Waters College and she had graduated from Florida A&M University.

"I never saw her before in my life, but I told my friend, here comes the girl I'm going to marry," Bruce Seldon said.

Bruce Seldon was raised in the Catholic faith in Pensacola, and Marguerite Seldon was the daughter of a Baptist minister. She converted to Catholicism before they married.

Seldon was making $12.50 per week with the city recreation department, and she was earning $45 a month as an elementary school teacher when they married two years later.

They did without furniture in their Durkeeville housing project apartment living room for nearly a year, and they walked and rode buses without a car for 10 years of their marriage. …

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