Still in love: Detroit Lakes couple celebrating 70th wedding anniversary
This is a very special day for Detroit Lakes residents Albert and Ruth Gray.
Seventy years ago today, on Aug. 31, 1939, they exchanged wedding vows in Webaux, Mont. -- and nearly three-quarters of a century later, they're still together.
"When I said 'I do,' I meant it," says Albert, now 92. (Ruth is four years younger.)
The simple sincerity of his words is apparent in the tender way he kisses Ruth's cheek as they pose for a photograph together.
The couple first met at a card party organized by a mutual friend, and dated for about a year and a half.
"We'd go out on Wednesday night and Saturday night ... sometimes on Sunday during the day," Albert said.
During the Great Depression, there was little money to go around, so when they did go out for the evening, it was usually with another couple -- both of whom were their friends before they were even introduced.
"Our friends got married before we did," said Ruth.
Though Albert spent much of his early childhood on the move -- "I went to school for eight years, at 10 different schools in three different states," he says -- he was determined that his children would have a more stable upbringing.
He and Ruth, a native of Martin County in southern Minnesota, settled in the tiny community of Trimont in 1943 -- the same year their second child, daughter Janet, was born. (Sons Gerald and Jim were born in 1940 and 1950, respectively.)
Each of their three children would graduate from high school in Trimont, where Albert served on the city council for 18 years.
"I enjoyed it," he says of his years in public service.
Albert was also a bit of a baseball fanatic -- "for years, my kids played," he says.
Each of the Grays' children now has two kids of their own, so the Grays eventually had six grandchildren (one is now deceased) and 12 great grandchildren -- Albert says jokingly that he wants to have 24 great-great grandchildren, but he doubts he'll be around to see it.
After a brief stint of military service in 1945-46 -- during the waning months of World War II -- Albert returned home to a job at the elevator in Trimont -- where he continued to work until ill health forced him to retire at age 60.
"The grain dust affected my lungs -- it still does," he says.
In addition to raising their children, Ruth also worked in quality control at the Tony Downs plant in St. James, Minn., for 30 years.
After moving out of their home in Trimont a few years ago, the couple lived in St. James for a few years before moving up north to Detroit Lakes, where they settled in an apartment at Winchester on Washington.
They wanted to be closer to their son Gerald, who lives with his family in the lakes area.
"It's pretty good here -- but I miss home," Albert admits.
Though they will doubtless receive many congratulations -- and possibly, a cake -- the Grays opted not to hold a big celebration for today's milestone.
"We had a 50th (anniversary party), that's enough," said Albert.
"We were pooped for three weeks afterward," said Ruth with a laugh.