Huddlestons share Valentine’s Day message

LAUREL — Paul Huddleston learned over 67 years ago that persistence pays.

The key to Joan (Marquardt) Huddleston’s heart seems to have been that persistence.

The  two have been married for 67 years, more than six decades of Valentine’s Days.

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine,  originated as a western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus.

In Europe,  Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart.’’

Valentine’s Day was always a fun-loving time for young people, Huddleston said.

“When we first went together, I got her a box of candy, cherry-filled. She loved chocolate,’’ he said.  

Joan Huddleston’s first memory of Valentine’s Day was kindergarten.  

“WemadeValentines and had a box to put them in. We gave one to each person. We had to give them to everyone. If you really liked someone then you put gum or a sucker in their Valentine,’’ she said. “We were anxious whether a certain boy would give us gum in school.’’

Valentine’s Day is a good reminder of what makes a successful relationship, Paul said,

“Love your partner, your parents and your brothers and sisters. That’s about it. Now when we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I give her a box of candy and we go to bed. At our age we need to feel just exactly right to go out, then I take her out for supper.’’ 

His wife said they celebrate Valentine’s Day the same as everyone else.  

“We don’t do a whole lot. We go out for dinner. I get a heart-shaped box of chocolates and that’s about it,’’ she said. “I usually make him a special meal. I still have the first necklace that he ever gave me.’’

If she could go anywhere for Valentine’s Day, she said she would go to Oklahoma to their son’s house.  

Paul Huddleston was born in Laurel to Everett and Hazel Huddleston in October 1930, and Joan Marquardt was born near Ewing to Victor and Opal Marquardt on the last day of 1932.  

Her husband grew up in Laurel, although Joan Marquardt grew up in Ewing until November of her senior year when the family moved to Laurel.  

“When we moved to Laurel, I worked at the grocery store. I first saw Paul Huddleston when he came in to get groceries for his Mom,’’ she said.

“I must have been in the wrong store,’’ said Paul.

“He drove a convertible,’’ said Joan. “I couldn’t stand him at first. He would drive his convertible by and splash us girls. He kept being persistent and so when I got mad at the guy I was going with, I started going with him. He was so nice. I couldn’t believe it. Our first date was a football game against Randolph.’’

Paul Huddleston remembers the 1948 red convertible and his version of the beginning of their romance.

“It was love at first sight,’’ he said. “I remember looking out the store window and seeing her. I said to myself, ‘Man, if I was ever with that girl. She was always and still is beautiful, lovable and we make a good couple.’’

“On our date, we went in a snowstorm and built a rabbit snowman, built a fire and had a hot dog roast,’’ he said. “It was four or five weeks before I was sent into the service we started going together. I was trying to get into the Air Force to get ahead of the draft. It was a Friday night when they called me and said they had a cancellation and there was a spot for me. It was Pearl Harbor Day 1951 when I went to Norfolk at 7 a.m. to enter the service.”

Huddleston was in the Air Force when the two were married. His father owned a men’s clothing and shoe shop. He worked there and then bought hogs for 20 years. He worked at the school for 11 years.  He was in the Air Force for four years in Texas and never did have to go overseas.

Both said the reason they got married was that Paul Huddleston wanted to get out of the barracks.

“At first we were going to wait until he got out of the service. It was hard and we talked about it and decided to get married. He never actually asked me to marry him,’’ she said.

“I gave her the ring at Robard’s in Texas. My Dad brought the ring down to Texas,’’ he said. “It was a very good thing that I did and I never regretted it. Her folks went with us to Hartington to get the marriage license because she was only 19.’’

His wife also said she had no regrets.

“They were good years. I worked four and a half days a week,’’ Paul Huddleston said. “We did a lot of travelling around Texas. Whenwe first arrived there we only had $200. We went with another couple and rented an apartment together. “

After one month we decided to get our own place.’’

One of their favorite things to do in Texas was to eat at Young Blood’s.

“We could get chicken, salad and all the biscuits you could eat for 59 cents,’’ he said. “The place was 41 miles away.’’

His wife remembers there were all different places to go in Texas.

“There were a lot of things that you could go do. There were all the old missions to explore, you could go to the zoo for a quarter and to the movies for a dime,’’ she said.

“We lost our first little boy in 1956,’’ she said. They have two other children, Tom and Jodie (Mary Jo).  Jodie is married to Steve Thompson. Tom is married to Lori (White).

Joan Huddleston said she worked at the PX Jewelry Dept., then the Laurel Vet Clinic for Dr. Walter Chace for 23 or 24 years and also at several grocery stores.

The 67 years have been happy and started off that way, according to the couple.  

“They were real happy with her,’’ Paul said of what his parents thought of his bride. “She had a very good connection with my mother. We had a happy wedding and a happy 67 years.’’

His wife agrees with his description and the same sentiment was shared about Paul and his family.  

“They liked him, even my mother which was a surprise because she never liked anyone that I went with,’’ she said. “His parents were wonderful people. If there’s a perfect husband, he’s it. He’s always been kind and considerate, helpful, too.’’

Her husband explains his efforts to be a good spouse.   

“I help her do dishes every day. I help her more now than I used to I think that is part of a good marriage,’’ he said.

“When we got married we had one bridesmaid, one groomsman and one flower girl,’’ she said. “We got married in the Methodist Church in Laurel. It was where the brick church is now. We had a reception afterward with cake and ice cream.’’

The couple has had 50th and 60th anniversary celebrations at the senior center.

Rollerskating has been something the couple loved to do together.  

“Paul never could learn to dance, but he could do anything on roller skates. We often went two or three times a week,’’ she said. “We went rollerskating in Wakefield, Wayne and all over. Later on we took the grandchildren.’’

Advice for others who want to have a lasting marriage like theirs comes from Joan.

She said “make sure you are with the right person and you better decide that long beforehand.”

“I don’t think you need to forgive someone who treats you badly, when there’s abuse in a marriage that is one thing that shouldn’t be happening in a marriage,’’ she said. “When I was teaching Bible School I was trying to get the concept of the 10 commandments across to thekids.Theyasked whatadultery was. I thought about it and said it’s when you go with another person that you are not married to. One of the girls piped up and said, ‘My mommy did that and daddy was real mad.’’’

Getting mad at each other is a hurdle every couple must endure, she said.

“Don’t shoot each other the first time you get mad,’’ she said. “He won’t argue with me. That’s how we get along so well. We took vows before God and we stick to them. We try to never go to bed mad because you might not wake up the next day.’’

Her husband agrees.   

“The main thing is to love each other. We have had disagreements, but never fights. She always says divorce no, murder yes,’’ he said. “Love each other, don’t pick on each other.’’

The main reason he feels his marriage is successful is God.

“The one thing is to believe in God. It is still all about having Him in our lives all the time,’’ he said.  

“It’s always been that way. Our folks raised us that way, to be Christian kids,’’ she said. “God is very, very, very important. You cannot come up with everything on your own. It helps that we went to Sunday School.’’

She said you need to remember to put God first, then each other next, no matter what, then kids and in-laws.

“After God, it’s always each other,’’ shesaid.“Wewereso young when we began, as we get older we realize that we didn’t really know what we wanted, but we got exactly what we wanted.’’

She said her efforts to be a good spouse included a number of ideas.  “I tried to keep a decent house and raised the kids decently,’’ she said. “I tried to take good care of him and fix meals that he likes to eat. It must have worked.’’

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