September 3, 2012

Local couple celebrates 71 years of marriage


---- — PLATTSBURGH — If you see Alyce and Lyle (Waldon) DeLong bantering back and forth, don’t mistake their dialogue for a dispute. 

It’s simply how they managed to make it through 71 years of marriage.

Friends and family gathered in the recreation room at the Clinton County Nursing Home Aug. 30 to help the cute couple celebrate their longstanding love for one another over cake and conversation.

Alyce, 88, of Peru, said she first set her sights on Lyle, 87, of Schuyler Falls, when they were just young children while their parents practiced together for a play.

She remembers wanting to take Lyle’s tricycle for a spin around his parent’s kitchen, but he was not quite ready to share.

“I really wanted a ride, but he didn’t want me to get on it,” she recalled, glancing over at her husband.

But it was the tricycle tiff that supposedly sparked Lyle’s enduring love for her, as he proudly proclaimed to his mother later that evening, “I’m gonna marry her.”

The couple remained close growing up, seeing each other regularly on the school bus.

As they got older, Alyce started seeing less of Lyle, not because they weren’t attracted to each other, but because he was skipping class.

Instead of asking him where he had been, Alyce, 17, asked Lyle, 16, if he wanted to get married.

On Aug. 30, 1941, the lovebirds wed at St. Augustine’s in Peru with only the pastor and Lyle’s brother as witnesses.

“It was nothing to get excited over,” Alyce said of the special day.

She also claimed that there aren’t too many things that Lyle does get excited about, except for dill pickles.

Lyle could not argue with that.

“Oh yeah, that is true,” he agreed.

After they were married, the happy couple moved into a home on Champlain Street in Plattsburgh before settling in Schuyler Falls.

They were together about two years before the birth of the first of five children.

Over time, Alyce spent her days caring for their children along with foster children while Lyle worked at the Georgia-Pacific mill, doing “anything and everything they told me to do.”

Years later, the couple retired and moved to Florida.

“We found a campground there that we liked and stayed for 23 years. I miss Florida. I really like it there,” Alyce said.

Due to health issues, the couple eventually headed back to Plattsburgh and found an apartment in Beekman Towers before moving to the nursing home.

Their daughter, Lynn Stebbins, of Peru, said no matter how much her parents may “argue” that they are actually are inseparable, even after 71 years together.

She is thankful the nursing home helped make sure they could share a room together.

“I insisted they had to be together. You can’t be together all these years and then be apart. They constantly worry about each other,” Stebbins smiled.

She recalled a time when her parents were both hospitalized at CVPH Medical Center, but on separate floors.

“They were a floor or two apart, but they did not see each other for about two and a half weeks. We finally brought mom to see dad and he winked at the nurse saying, ‘That’s my sweetie,’” Stebbins said. “They may forget names but they don’t forget each other.”

Daughter-in-law Kathy DeLong of Plattsburgh is also proud of the happy couple for keeping it together for as long as they have.

She visited their party to pay her respects along with Stebbins.

“They are doing just great. They don’t have many kids left, so we are here to celebrate this with them,” Kathy said.

But Stebbins and Kathy are still trying to figure out the recipe for a long-lasting marriage.

“Bless them because I don’t know how they did it,” Stebbins said.

Whatever their secret is, Alyce and Lyle are still in love after all these years.

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