Friday, March 21, 2003

Growing up...instead of growing old

The following story is about my Father's, Cousin's, Great Aunt and Uncle (Everett and Hazel Carlson). The story is from the Echo Press located in Alexandria MN, and can be read here... Growing up...instead of growing old

By Tara Bitzan, Lifestyle editor
Friday, 3/21/03

Everett and Hazel Carlson still have some growing up to do.

Despite the fact that both have lived more than 90 years of life and shared 73 years of marriage, they still aren’t "grown up," according to Everett.

"There’s something to learn all the time," he said in a serious manner, although it’s hard to tell when Everett is truly serious. "We’ve had a long, good life," he added, reminiscing about days gone by.

Hazel was born and raised in Spruce Hill, while Everett was born in Illinois. He moved with his family to Spruce Hill when he was 6 years old.

"It was March 15, 1915," he noted, remembering the date as if it was an important one. And surely it was, as that move brought him to meet his future wife.

"She was three years younger than me…had long curls…her hair was golden," recalled Everett with a twinkle in his eye.

Although the two went to different schools, their families did attend the same church in Rose City, and they grew up knowing each other.

"We got married on August 26, 1929," Everett stated, again never second-guessing his date.

Hazel was a young 17 and Everett only 20 when the couple set out to make a life together. They farmed in the Spruce Hill area until 1935, when they packed up and moved to the Twin Cities. Everett worked for a wholesale grocer for five years before going to work for a steel company. He retired from there in 1973 and the couple moved to Kerkhoven.

"Our last move was on April 6, 2002," Hazel recalled with the same certainty as her husband with dates. "We came here, to Windmill Ponds in Alexandria.

Everett is now a spry 93, and Hazel is what she calls a "not so young 90." Their 73 years of marriage are evident in the comfort with each other, as well as in their rings!

"We’ve been married so long I completely wore out my wedding ring," Everett explained. "I’m on my second one now, but I think this one will last me!"

Despite their age, the couple still enjoys good times together.

"We’ve been blessed," Everett said, this time clearly serious. "We’ve had pretty good health and a lot of patience. We had a lot of ups and downs, but there wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle."

Patience isn’t the only thing that has kept the couple happy for 73 years. According to Everett, the real secret is saying, "I’m sorry".

"You have to be able to give in," he said. When asked who said "I’m sorry" most often, he replied, "We took turns!"

Common sense also plays an important role in a marriage, he advised.

"Common sense goes a long way. When you have an argument, a little common sense will tell you to cave in and say ‘I’m sorry’," he explained.

It was common sense, he noted, that also told him he should hang on to Hazel for other reasons.

"She couldn’t cook as good as her mother, but she was a good learner," he said, waiting to get a rise out of his wife. After a slight smile and quick shrug of her shoulders, he continued, "She learned to be a good cook, so it was no sense to get rid of her!"

To that, Hazel retorted, "I sometimes think if I’d known it [the marriage] was going to be this long, I don’t know if I’d have said ‘I do’!" Everett gave a chuckle as he fondly gave his wife a wink.

The couple has a lot more than just memories to show for 73 years together, including three sons, 11 grandchildren and 11 (soon to be 12) great-grandchildren.

"They’re the best," Hazel said of her sons and their families. The topic seemed to be one of her favorites, and she quickly gained interest in the conversation.

"I used to have supper on the table when Everett got home from work. We’d eat and then go tobogganing with the kids," she said with a thoughtful smile on her face. "We grew up with our kids."

"When the kids were small we used to tell them what to do," Everett said. "Then they grew up, and now they tell us what to do!" he added with a chuckle. "It kind of backfires on you!"

Several times during the conversation the couple would reflect on days gone by…"We’ve lived in a time with many changes," Everett said. "We saw the first radios, when electricity came to the country…we used to ride a streetcar for a nickel, and the going wage used to be 20 cents an hour."

While many of the memories are of changing times, the two also have some personal memories that are quick to bring smiles to their faces.

"Through life, there’s a lot of funny things that happen," Everett said, "like the time Hazel locked me in the basement!"

"Oh sure, now he’s going to tell that story again," Hazel said with a roll of her eyes. "I never thought I would pay for it all these years."

Undaunted, Everett went on to tell about the time he and Hazel were in the basement of their home. She was going to her brother’s, and as she left, she locked the basement door, not even thinking that Everett was still in there!

"I heard her locking it, and I tried to yell to her, but she didn’t come back!" Everett said looking at Hazel, waiting for her to react. After her usual quick shoulder shrug, he continued, "Luckily, I was kind of a handyman, so I was able to take the door off the hinges to get out!"

While Hazel claims she didn’t lock him in the basement intentionally, she does have a certain look in her eye that warns if he tells the story one more time, he may find himself locked in again.

"Anyway, I did say I was sorry," she said with a smile.

©2003 All photos, content and design are properties of the Echo Press

NOTE: Reprinted without permission; Unable to link to the original article from publisher site.