By Linda Powell Spalding/Special to the Daily Journal
It was fall 1940 in Hickory Valley, Tenn. Curtis Hines saw a picture of a beautiful young woman. He was in attendance at a taffy pulling at his girlfriend’s house. Her sister was best friends with Marjorie Lake and had her picture on the dresser. Curtis asked about the beautiful woman. He was told “You needn’t be looking at that picture; she’s taken.”
Now Curtis was not a desperate man, he could get dates with any girl he wanted to date. He was and still is, even though he is almost 90 years old, a very handsome man. It was said of him that he “looked like a movin’ (sic) star.” But he was a high school senior and the lovely Marjorie Lake was a first-year elementary school teacher. Later, he saw her at an all-school program.
Marjorie stated that Curtis was not paying attention as the students were singing. Curtis responded with “her blonde hair flowing; her lips full and red: how could I hear ‘Indian Love Call’?” Curtis pursued her attentions but she thought she ought not to date a high school student. Persistence eventually paid off for Curtis.
Communication was terrible back in that day. Messages were sent back and forth. Transportation and money also were in limited supply, but Curtis and Marjorie finally went on their first date. As they were traveling to the location of their date, Marjorie made note of the beautiful wildflowers growing along the road side. Curtis immediately stopped the car, got out and picked a bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace. He presented them to Marjorie. “I knew what kind of man he was after he did that,” reminisced Mrs. Hines.
The two dated on and off about six months and then were a steady couple for another year. During this time, Curtis graduated from high school, World War II was declared and the Army called Curtis. Curtis was stationed in Virginia getting ready to be shipped overseas. They made plans by old-fashioned correspondence. Marjorie went by train to Virginia to visit her brother. She left his house early and took the train to where Curtis was stationed, Camp Lee Virginia. They married there on May 3, 1943, to the surprise of everyone back home.
After Curtis returned from the war, they made their home where Curtis grew up: the Hopewell community of Benton County. They have lived there together since that time.
Six years ago, Marjorie had a stroke. Curtis takes care of her. He cooks and manages the house; he takes care of all Marjorie’s needs without outside assistance. One day, prior to Marjorie’s becoming as immobile as she is today, she was outside walking with her walker. Curtis was nearby. Marjorie was pointing her fingers and noting the flowers and Curtis was picking the bouquet.
Today, Curtis will wake up Marjorie in the middle of the night to tell her he loves her. They will often be found sitting on the couch together holding hands. During church, Curtis will reach over and pat Marjorie on the hands and squeeze them.
When talking with the couple, people often ask the secret to their successful and loving marriage of almost 69 years. Curtis laughs and replies “doing what your wife tells you to do. No, it’s a lot of take and give: She always put more into it than I did.
“If we weren’t showing our love, we were thinking about how to show our love.”
Curtis’ advice to young lovers looking to make love last is always expressing your love to each other: all day, every day.
“With Marjorie, she always put family first, especially me.”
Marjorie added “I reared our children and then I reared my son’s.”
“We sometimes disagreed but you should always end the day in a good humor,” added Curtis.
Curtis turned to Marjorie and squeezed her hand, “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for you. I might be tempted, but I don’t believe I’d do it.”
Marjorie turned my way and stated that “he bends over backwards to please me and take care of me. In return, I go dancing with him. Oh, I don’t dance. I never cared much for it. I go with him. He has dance partners lined up. He has had as many as 28 partners waiting to dance with him.”
Curtis gets up from the couch and fusses over Marjorie. She’s fine. Then he straightens up the flowers in the vase on the table, sits back down beside her, and grabs her hand and whispers in her ear, “I love you.”
About the author: Linda Powell Spaulding is a guidance counselor at H.W. Byars High School in Holly Springs. She lives “down the road” from her Uncle Curtis and Aunt Marjorie in the Hopewell community in Benton County. She wrote this essay because she wanted folks to know about two people who are madly in love with each other for more than 70 years. The Hineses are the parents of Beth Davis of Iuka and Frank Hines of Hopewell.