November 21, 2012

Mooers couple reflect on 71 years


“I went home and told Pa, ‘School’s not for me,’” he said. “My Pa said I’d probably have the truant officer after me, but he never came. I grabbed an ax and went into the woods to work.”

Charles and Eva were married Feb. 24, 1941, at the Burke Methodist Church parsonage. They honeymooned for a week in Syracuse, settled into farming in Mooers and never looked back.

Eva, 88, said even though she’d never been near the barn, she learned how to milk cows by hand. Her father had always told her “Boys in the barn and girls in the house,” but that had to change now.

Tragedy struck on Christmas morning, 1944, when a fire destroyed their home. Eva found herself standing in the snow with two babies, Stephen, who is now 70, and Judy, who died 12 years ago at 55.

“There were no firemen then, and our water machine in the barn was broken, so there was nothing we could do,” she said.

She recalls that the neighbors saw the smoke and came to help, but it was too late. Images she still carries in her mind are of baby clothes frozen in the ice and all her pies and a roast for Christmas dinner destroyed.  

They stayed with Charles’s family for a few weeks and then moved into an old grainery all winter until a new home could be built. Another son, Leonard, was born. Years later they bought a larger farm with Leonard, now 65, and worked until they decided to retire in 1975.

“We bought a camper and drove to Alaska,” said Charles, 92.  “We had eight flat tires because the road graders would leave metal slivers behind. The trip was an adventure and fun.”

Home again, Charles admits he couldn’t stay completely away from helping his son with farm chores. They spent 32 winters in Florida, but the last few years stayed north. Eva hunts during deer season. Her family won’t let her climb into a tree stand anymore so they built her a little cabin.

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