February 18, 2013

60 years strong: Couple celebrates Valentine’s anniversary

By Magen McCrarey
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — On February 14, Mary and Jim McGee celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with their closest friends and neighbors.  They were united in marriage in Swiss Colony in 1953.

“I met her on a blind date,” Jim said.

In ‘52, Jim returned home from the Korean War on a 30-day furlough from the U.S. Army. He received a purple heart because a sniper shot a bullet across his face.  That summer, he was set up on a blind date to meet Mary. She stood in front of City Drug on Main Street, what is today the Magee building, waiting for Jim to arrive.

“Her skirt had pleats around the waist and she had a white blouse on buttoned up the back,” Jim said.

The two met up with friends to spend their first date at a Greenmount Baptist revival.

“He called for a second date, that led to another date, and another,” Mary said.

And finally, a few months later, on a date in December at an outdoor drive-in, while the ‘49 black and white film, Mrs. Mike, played out it’s romantic love story, Jim was planning one of his own.  He popped the question.

“And of course, I said yes,” Mary giggled.

After the couple, in their 20s then, exchanged vows in Laurel County on Valentine’s Day, they ate at a Lake City, Tenn. restaurant for their reception.

“Hamburger and french fries. We couldn’t afford nothing else,” Jim said.

They then made their way down to Gatlinburg, Tenn.  Only to be stopped in Sevierville at the foot of a mountain locked with a big chain, closing off the roadways.

“It snowed that night and we had to turn around,” Mary said.

The two eventually took some backroads until they reached their honeymoon destination.  Mary said their marriage hasn’t been like a honeymoon the entire time, but they always found a way to make things work.  

The two are survivors  — Jim for his military career, and later in life, Mary battled cancer.

They lived for a time in Dayton, Ohio for work, but moved back home to Laurel County in 1958 to a home on Ky. 192.  Their son and daughter, Michael and Marsha, are Mary’s biggest life accomplishments, she said.

To keep the family of four afloat, Jim took a job as a long-distance trucker, driving across the nation as Mary stayed home to raise the kids and work at a bank.

“I’ve been strong, he’s been strong,” Mary said. “We’ve both been strong…we’ve had our ups and downs, but we made it.

“We thank God for everyday. We’re both Christians.  I think that’s one thing that’s kept us together. I don’t believe in divorce.”

Today, Mary is 80 years old and Jim, 84.  Outside their apartment door at Laurel Village, an assisted living community, is a small picture frame with the 10 Commandments.

“We’re just still together. It doesn’t seem like 60 years. Time has a way of passing,” Mary said.

“Not many make it to 60,” Jim said.