The readers of The Daily World voted Channel Point Village the Best Assisted Living Community in the Best of Twin Harbors 2012 for the second year in a row! We are honored!
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By admin: 05/17/2012 @ 2:22 pm
By admin: 12/28/2011 @ 9:16 am
By Deborah Tracy
The Daily World
When you get right down to it, whether your celebrations are spiritual or secular, the Christmas story is, bottom line, all about love.
Love that lasts can be the most precious gift of all. On Dec. 27, Howard and Betty Wilson of Hoquiam will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. That’s right, seven decades, and these two are still sweethearts.
They have celebrated 70 Christmases together, and have seen the evolution of the celebration and the town through the ages. As they took some time to chat about ghosts of Christmases past and present, their delight in the memories and in their feelings for each other shone through.
They were wed in 1941, just at the start of World War II. The two had attended first grade together in Hoquiam, and split when Howard’s family moved from the Harbor for several years. They became re-acquainted at a WPA sponsored dancing school. “And right away I knew that she was the one I wanted,” Howard said. “She was a sweetheart, and still is.” The two shared their first kiss underwater at age 14 in the natatorium in Aberdeen on their first official date. “It was mutual chemistry,” Howard said.
They graduated as high school sweethearts in 1939 and went to college, she to Marylhurst University near Portland and he to Washington State University, but the separation was too much and the 20-year-olds came back to Hoquiam to be wed in 1941, just at the start of World War II. During their first Christmas together, the two lived in a big old rental house in Hoquiam, with two woodstoves, one for cooking and one for heating, and a load of green wood. “So we had a lot of fun trying to keep that house warm, but our love kept us warm,” Howard said.
The very next year Howard was drafted into the service, his work for the Army had him traveling throughout the Northwest processing selective service people. (He took chest X-rays to be sure the men didn’t have tuberculous or other conditions that would preclude them from going into the military.) The fact they would soon be separated weighed heavy on their minds that holiday. “We cried a lot, we talked a lot,” said Betty, though they made an effort to have a joyful holiday. “We took walks and talked and talked,” Betty said.
Being based in the Northwest, Howard was also able to be home for Christmas the next year. He was able to get cigarettes, which he never used, but he traded them for gas to get home. Betty always has loved candy and it was hard to find any to buy at the stores during war time. Howard bought her a one pound box of Russell Stover’s candies. He teased her about not wanting her to get fat, so she went outside and told him to hide the box of chocolates before he left. “When he left I started hunting for it,” she said. It took her two days to find it in the high cabinets in the kitchen. She got a chair and in the next two days she had eaten the whole pound of candy.
She has another big box of chocolates this year, but says she has learned restraint and it’s not necessary for Howard to hide the box.
As the years passed it wasn’t long before the children came along: Tom, Jean and Betsy. One big tradition was Howard’s annual trek in the woods, usually with one of the children riding on his shoulders, to pick out and bring back the tree.
Christmas dinners were big affairs, usually featuring turkey and ham and all the fixings. Her family, his family, their children and friends — the table was full. With all their children, Betty explained with a big smile, “It was bedlam. We had a wonderful time.”
It was a different downtown Hoquiam in those years as well, Howard recalled. His family owned Quimby & Wilson Furniture Store. The holiday season was a festive time downtown, the streets filled with holiday shoppers. All family members, including wives, were pressed into service at the store. “Christmas season was just great in those times,” Howard said. Now, he lamented, downtown is like a ghost town.
The two are deeply spiritual, and they both have always loved the religious aspect of the holiday. Howard was a deacon after leaving the furniture store business, keeping busy with visiting patients at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
So many Christmases equal lots of gifts. One year Howard told Betty he hid her gift and sent her on a treasure hunt through the house in search of it. She searched low, and then high, finally reaching into the attic where her fingers hit something metallic that sounded vaguely like bells. She had found her gift — a kitchen sink!
They were asked to search their memories and think back over the years for the very best Christmas present each had given the other. The answer was instantaneous and simultaneous — they were both most thankful for the gift of each other.
As the years have passed, things inevitably have changed. Children grow up, get married and start their own families. First there are grandchildren (six) and then great-grandchildren (also six). Older parents, aunts and uncles, pass on. The couple celebrated the holiday a little early this year at their home in Channel Point Village in Hoquiam, not very far at all from that first great big rental house they shared. Their daughter Jean and her husband joined them for the celebration.
So, what will they do this year? Betty laughed, and said when they wake up one of them will say, “What do you think? Should we get up?” It may be a far cry from when their children woke them up in the pre-dawn darkness to open gifts, and although it will be a quiet holiday, there is no doubt the couple will spend this holiday like they did the first year they wed — with their love to keep them warm.
Photos by Macleod Pappidas, The Daily World
By admin: 05/03/2011 @ 10:13 am
Thank you to all of you who voted for Channel Point Village as the “Best Assisted Living Community” in Grays Harbor in the The Daily World Best of Twin Harbors Contest!