Couple still acting like newlyweds after 70 years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 17, 2004

(This week The Luverne Journal spotlights husband and wife, Will Tom and Rachel Smith. The couple will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary next March.)

By Ann Grier

This may be the stuff that Fairy Tales are made of, but it’s the real thing.

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They still cuddle, hold hands and talk sweet to one another after all these years.

He’s 93-years-old and she’s 89 and her daddy said it would never last. But, in March of 2005 they will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary with friends and family at the Luverne Health and Rehab.

Life-long residents of Dozier, Will Tom and Rachel Smith continue to make new friends and become reacquainted with people they have known all their lives at the healthcare facility.

Ms. Rachel said back in 1935,when she was 19-years-old she dropped out of Troy State University to marry Mr. Will Tom.

&uot;Daddy didn’t speak to me for six weeks,&uot; she said. &uot;I was a real daddy’s girl. He finally accepted it.&uot;

&uot;She asked me to marry her,&uot; Mr. Tom said. &uot;My daddy was a sharecropper and I worked with him, so I didn’t have any money. The day we decided to marry I walked eight miles to where my sister was teaching school and borrowed some money from her. She didn’t have but $4.50, but she gave it to me. We went to a Primitive Baptist preachers house and he married us in his yard standing between two gas tanks.&uot;

&uot;We never had a honeymoon,&uot; Ms. Rachel said. &uot;We went on that night to live with his folks.&uot;

When asked about their courtship they smiled and looked at each other fondly.

&uot;Well, back before I met Rachel,&uot; Mr. Will Tom said, &uot;I could dance all night, then plow all day. Joe Dozer and me would walk six miles on some back trails to the dances they had at Burnout. I always said no woman would ever tie me down, but when I met Rachel I knew she was the one.&uot;

When asked how they met, Ms. Rachel said young folks back then would go to people's houses and serenade them with singing, ringing cowbells and pulling pranks on them.

&uot;That’s how I met Will Tom,&uot; she said. &uot;He came by my house one night. The first time I ever went with him serenading some people threw dishwater on us,&uot; she laughed. &uot;It was a lot of fun though!&uot;

&uot;When our first child, Betty Sue was born Rachel had her at home,&uot; said Mr. Will Tom. &uot;Old Dr. Bell in Dozier came out to the house. People didn’t go to hospitals back then, but when she had Johnny Mack, 12 years later, she had to have a cesarean section and stayed in bed about the whole nine months.&uot;

Betty Sport, their daughter said, &uot;they didn’t have ambulances back then, and I remember the day they brought Mama home from the hospital. They brought her on a hearse. I remember going out and getting Johnny Mack out of that hearse.&uot;

&uot;She always said she’d give me a boy,&uot; said Mr. Will Tom. &uot;She miscarried three baby boys before we finally had Johnny Mack. I was scared to death I was going to lose her.&uot;

When asked how she managed her children and home back then Ms. Rachel replied,

&uot;Looking back it didn’t seem hard at the time. It’s a whole lot easier now. We brought up our children, but today they're bringing up themselves. I cooked one big meal a day on a woodstove. We didn’t have ready-made food. We cooked every thing from scratch. As long as I was able, I cooked dinner every Sunday for all my family. But, I did go to work when Betty Sue was 17 at Alatex in Andalusia and worked 29 years. I really enjoyed working outside the home.&uot;

When Mr. Will Tom was asked how things have changed in his lifetime he said,

&uot;Well things have come a long way. When I was growing up people around Dozier either farmed or had sawmills. The hardest thing I ever had to do was picking cotton. My first job, off the farm, was at Bradley’s Mill for 75 cents a day and I had to walk four miles there and back. But, the neatest thing I’ve ever seen is when they starting putting people on the moon. I thought, at first, they had just made it up.&uot;

Both the Smiths said their life’s ambition had been to see their children have things easier than they did.

&uot;Betty Sue, being the oldest, did have to work in the field with me some,&uot; said Mr. Will Tom. &uot;One year she planted the corn seeds on top of each other, but to hear her tell it, that was our best crop ever. Johnny Mack always loved horses and he went to Troy State, then to Auburn, and he’s a Veterinarian. Back in the 90's he took us to the Grand Ole' Opry. That’s one time we’ll always look back on.&uot;

The Smiths said they count their greatest blessing in life as living to see their grandchildren, great grandchildren and their great-great grand baby, little Madison Stewart, daughter of their great granddaughter Amanda Stewart.

In retrospect, the Smiths give the good Lord credit for watching over their family all these years.

&uot;We’ve had a good life together,&uot; said Ms. Rachel.

Mr. Will Tom smiled, and nodded. &uot;We wouldn’t change a thing."

(Grier is an employee at Luverne Health and Rehab.)