Couple celebrates their wedding anniversary for the 70th time

"Even now, 70 years after an impromptu, early morning wedding, Bud and Clara Emery struggle to explain what led them to marry.But she knows the celebration of their 70th anniversary on July 7 represents a significant milestone. That's a long time, she said, longer than even some people live.The Federal Way couple's lengthy marriage is all the more significant because it began after the shortest of courtships. The Emerys' marriage is an anomaly in an age when many marriages end in divorce, even after far longer courtships. Clara was a 19-year-old store clerk working in Deep River, Wash., when a friend, Lillian, asked if she'd come with her when she visited her boyfriend in Newport, Ore. In those days, proper women took chaperones when they visited young men in whom they were romantically interested. Bud was an 18-year-old engineer on a government dredge when a buddy, Roy, asked him if he'd serve as blind date to his girlfriend Lillian's friend. Bud told his friend he would try anything once.Bud and Clara got to know each other while sitting in Roy's rumble seat during a trip on July 3, 1930, from Tillamook to Newport. They shared tidbits about their lives - I'm a good talker, Clara said. Bud serenaded her with a rendition of On Moonlight Bay. Clara admits she was smitten.He was dark and handsome and had a dark moustache, she said. I thought, 'Oh boy.' We just seemed to belong, Bud said.On the Fourth of July, Roy mentioned marriage and Lillian said, I dare you, Clara said. Before long, Clara, a self-described practical girl who had never dreamed of doing something like that, dared Bud to marry her.On the evening of July 6, Roy told the women he and Bud would get rings. They left on a several-hour-long scavenger hunt. The result seemed unreal to Bud - I thought it was a joke. I think I kind of got sucked into this, Bud said. Lillian and Roy wanted to get married. We got sucked into it.Bud and Roy bought wedding rings, interrupted a doctor's party so they could get the required medical examinations, picked up a friend of Roy's to act as best man, and butted in on a county employee's pinochle game so they could obtain marriage licenses.Then, at 1 in the morning on July 7, they woke up the preacher at his home. He sleepily married both couples in a double ceremony.It seemed like a farce all the way through it, Bud said.Clara chooses more romantic terms to describe the impulse to marry a man she'd known only three days.I think it was destiny, she said.That's not to say they lived a fairy-tale existence. Like other married couples, the Emerys experienced their share of for better and for worse. Among the couple's biggest tragedies were the deaths of two of their three children, Geraldeen at the age of 9 months and Dennis at the age of 37. Their third child, Annette, age, lives in New Mexico. For most of his life, Bud, now 88, worked as an engineer on ships, which meant weeks, and even months, away from his family. Both say those frequent separations were hard on their marriage. They wrote frequent letters to each other during those separations, but the letters only provided a small measure of solace. For 20 years, I lived alone while he was at sea, said Clara, now 89. I've been alone an awfully lot of the time. ... I hated it when he left. I was so happy when he got back. Bud agreed that the worst thing about being apart from his wife was the loneliness.Bud's job meant the family moved frequently. Each time, Clara would work to transform their new house into a home. No matter how lonely, they clung to their love and respected each other's roles in the family. Clara made delicious meals and kept a spotless home. Bud earned money to support the family.Growing older brings new challenges to their relationship. About five years ago, they sold their two-story house and many of their belongings and moved into a home at Belmor Park, a retirement community. They're considering moving into an assisted living facility so they don't have to make their own meals.They're both legally blind and can't drive anymore. About nine years ago, Clara suffered a stroke. Bud's health declined over the last year until he was recently hospitalized with heart problems. He now has a pacemaker and his health is improving, but the experience reminded Clara how much she would miss her longtime mate.Clara calls the thought of losing Bud devastating.You don't want to even think what you'd do if he left, but you have to, she said. Although old age has slowed them and lined their faced, some things never change. Every morning, Bud wakes up to make coffee and take a cup into the bedroom for Clara. Their 42-year-old granddaughter, Julie Cederberg, says that morning ritual is just one example of the ways her grandparents show their love.Grandma was a wonderful cook. His joke, when he was clearly enjoying a meal, was to say, 'There's only one thing wrong with this. There's no nuts,' in a recipe that clearly didn't need nuts. Grandma would smile and roll her eyes. Their old age makes them appreciate each other all the more, Clara said.It's nice to get old and care about each other, she said.We've been in love all these years, Bud said. The longer we're married, the more we love each other."

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