LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Anita Anderson Larkey has a strong belief in lasting marriage.
In fact, of her nine siblings, she is the only one in her family who has not divorced.
Her reasoning is simple: “I feel like God put us together and we always tried to do what was right.”
The “we” includes her husband of nearly 55 years, David Larkey.
Anita’s father worked as a truck driver and a farmer, and her mother gardened, canned foods, and did sewing to support their 10 children. There was 21 years between the oldest and youngest Anderson child, so Anita only remembers five children living at home as she grew up on south U.S. 25.
The Larkeys lived on what is now North Mill Street where his father Pete Tilmon “P.T.” Larkey operated a small grocery store and later began selling Stoker coal furnaces to support his wife and nine children.
David and Anita met when she was 12 years old. Her neighbor, Opal Miller, taught Sunday School at First Assembly Church, then on Fifth Street in London, and invited her to go. David was in the same Sunday School class as Anita.
“We didn’t like each other much,” David said, laughing. “I thought she was snooty and she thought I was a smart aleck — and I was.”
“I wasn’t snooty; I was always shy,” Anita replied.
But when David and his friends, Bill Smith and Don House, joined the Army on the “Buddy Plan,” Mrs. Miller thought it would be nice for the Sunday School class to write to some of the soldiers from the area.
“I decided to write to David,” Anita said. “After we started writing, we found out our families knew each other. His mother stayed with my mother while my dad was away working.”
The couple got to know each other through letters. David, meanwhile, would take his furlough time from the Army to come home, even hitchhiking on two different times when he could not get a ride from Battle Creek, Mich., during his training.