Carl and LaJean Franklin, married Feb. 14, 1945, share a moment in their Millbury home.
Those men who find it hard to remember their wedding anniversary don't have the troubles Carl Franklin has.
He married his wife on Feb. 14, 1945. And then again the next day.
Mr. Franklin said yesterday that his first wedding was to secure a life with the woman he loved in a small ceremony in Kentucky attended by only his father, brother, and sister-in-law.
The second was to prove to his wife's mother that they were indeed married.
With a vase full of deep pink roses to remind them of the day - a Valentine's Day gift from Mr. Franklin - Carl and LaJean Franklin plan to celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary today as well as their 4 children, 10 grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren.
"There's a couple of things I don't know about her," joked Mr. Franklin, 80, while his 79-year-old wife let out a short laugh. "She's been holding out a few things over these years."
The couple met in Toledo when she was 13 and he was 14. They were at the Masonic Lodge on Broadway where Mrs. Franklin's parents ran a dance each weekend.
They danced together and, a few years later, began dating.
At age 17, Mr. Franklin enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to the USS Elder in the Pacific Ocean. He received letters from home throughout his time away.
In 1945, only about nine months before he was discharged, Mr. Franklin returned home for a 30-day leave. He took his bride and eloped to Covington, Ky.
"It just happened that way, we didn't plan it," he said of the Valentine's Day wedding. "That just happened to be the time I was home on leave."
After moving back to Toledo from California, where he had been stationed, the couple spent the next 60 years enjoying life. He was a steam engineer who eventually worked for the state. She was a price analyst for local grocers.
And much to the surprise of many - including Mrs. Franklin's parents - the couple lasted through the years.
"When he went in the service, he came back to get her," said their daughter, Yvonne Broadway, who lives in Georgia. "[Her parents] didn't believe they'd be together six months - they gave it six months tops."
"No one thought it would ever last," added Chyrl Knapp, another daughter who lives in Florida and who will be flying in today to celebrate the couple's anniversary. "But it was true, true love."
Life has become more difficult. Mrs. Franklin suffered a severe stroke last summer and now has trouble communicating. Mr. Franklin has taken over the daily tasks of cooking and taking care of their small home in Millbury.
But ask them to pose in a picture together, and Mrs. Franklin will grab her husband's hand, interlocking their fingers, and drag him over to her.
Yesterday, Mr. Franklin remembered other friends who withstood difficult times and celebrated anniversaries well past the golden one. In particular, a friend who recently passed away who had celebrated 69 years with his wife.
"We're still working on it," he said.
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