RALEIGH — There was no wedding gown. No big reception. No official wedding photo.
Instead, there was a justice of the peace one state away.
That was the humble beginning of married life for two area couples, wed during a time of war. A beginning without fanfare that would endure for 70 years for Doris and Harold Price and Lydia and Earl Waters. Marriages that would survive hard financial times and separation during World War II.
Westover United Methodist Church honored the 70th anniversaries of both couples at a reception Sunday.
For several moments as they gathered around to cut an anniversary cake, with sepia and black and white photographs of their early days posted nearby, the couples became mini-celebrities with cameras flashing. Congratulations and well wishes surrounded the pairs and their adult children.
Doris and Harold
David Price has no doubt about how his parents feel about each other. “They love each other. They still hold hands when they walk,” he said.
His mother, Doris Price, 88, happily beams at the mention. “People stop their cars and say that we are so sweet,” she gushed.
Harold and Doris Price fell in love when they were teenagers growing up around Lake Wheeler in Raleigh.
“My mother and her mother had a flower stand at City Market. That’s where we met,” said Harold Price, 89, of Garner. “At the time, I said ‘I tell you I think I’ll take her as my wife.’ ”
He was about 16 and remembered taking Doris on dates walking around town to shows and even the cemetery. Harold doesn’t mince words when talking about why he choose Doris: “She suited me.”
After about two years of dating, the couple eloped to South Carolina and married on Nov. 29, 1942.
Eloping was a popular choice for couples at the time because money was tight and many goods were rationed because of the war. Shortly after their marriage, Harold Price was drafted in the U.S. Army and sent to the Philippines.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve managed to work through them,” Doris Price said. “I wouldn’t trade him for anything. Being able to solve your differences if you have a problem and forgive each other, that’s the secret, I guess.”
There isn’t a magic formula to making a marriage last, it comes down to commitment according to the Prices, who have three children, all sons.
“You’ve got to give and take,” Harold Price said.
Lydia and Earl
Lydia Waters was in her 20s working at Raleigh’s Union Station, serving refreshments to travelers when she met her future husband. Earl Waters had just moved to town from Belhaven to work at his uncle’s furniture shop nearby.
“He would come over a night and get a Coke, and he would talk to me. We got acquainted that way,” said Lydia Waters, 92, who is originally from Dunn.
“I just thought he was a real nice person. When you met someone like that who is willing to consider your feelings as well as his, it just happens. You fall in love. You get married,” she said.
Their first date was a local restaurant, where they ate fried chicken, said Earl Waters, 90.
“That was on a Saturday,” he said. “I went back to see her Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.”
The couple married about two years later on July 18, 1942, after visiting a friend near Charleston, S.C. The Waterses faced challenges early on in their marriage. When Lydia was five months pregnant, her husband was sent off to war.
“When you get married, there’s a saying: for better or for worse,” she said. “We could always iron our little problems out. The main thing is take each day at a time and consider your mate. You let them have their say, and you have your say.”
The couple had three children, all sons.
One of the reasons Ken Waters thinks his parents’ marriage has lasted so long is because they are a team.
“They love each other dearly,” he said. “They’re just always together. They worked together on everything. Mama told us what to do and if we didn’t do it he enforced it,” Ken Waters said.
Earl Waters puts his relationship with his wife simply: “I was just an ol’ country boy. She was an ol’ country girl, and we got along fine. We’ve had a good life together.”
His advice for a long marriage: “Give a little, take a little.”