MORTONS GAP, Ky. (2/23/14) — It's been said, “true love never dies.”
That certainly seems to be the case with a Mortons Gap woman, who can recall even the smallest details about the first time she met her future husband more than six decades ago.
Margie Smith Durham met Dorris Durham, when she was in fifth grade and he was in the seventh at Morton's Gap School.
“He was standing under that tree,” said Ms. Margie pointing across the old Mortons Gap School yard.
“My friend said, 'I want you to meet my boyfriend.' She called for him and he came up to us right here in front of this window. He had on this little cap and I thought, 'Look at those eyes.' ”
Margie, who'll be 88 next month, is quick to make it clear that she didn't steal Dorris from her friend but that she did have an immediate fondness for him. She also knew that feeling was mutual, when Dorris started saving her a seat on the school bus.
From that first meeting, the two were obviously “sweet on each other.”
When Dorris left school after his father died, he and his brother became sharecroppers to support the family. Margie's sister, Ola Bell Smith, courted with and eventually married Dorris' brother, Herbert Durham. So, Dorris and Margie kept in touch through letters sent via their siblings.
When Dorris entered the U.S. Army, he asked Margie to marry him. But she declined saying they should wait until he returned and meanwhile go out with other people. Margie went to beauty school and became a hairdresser, and the couple kept in contact through letters.
“I still have all the love letters he wrote to me,” said Ms. Margie. “I asked him once what he did with my letters and he told me he buried them in the backyard so that no one would ever read them but him.”
After Dorris returned from the military, the couple married and moved to Evansville, Ind., where Dorris went to work for the railroad and Margie worked as a hairdresser.
But home was calling and the couple moved back to Hopkins County.
Eventually, Dorris went to work in the coal mines and Margie opened her own beauty shop in Earlington. The couple saved their money and when Margie's father decided to sell the home place, Dorris and Margie bought it.
The couple raised their family in the home and lived there together until his death in 1997.
Today, Margie remains active and enjoys spending time with her two daughters and a grandson that comprise her three closest neighbors.
Magistrate Karol Welch is one of those daughters and enjoys hearing her mother's stories from her youth.
“She has the best memory,” said Karol. “She can remember what outfit she wore on a specific occasion and the pocketbook she carried.”
Ms. Margie is often asked the secret to being such a young 87.
She answers by saying it's from a lifetime of raising and eating her own food. She still grows a few vegetables in the summer.
“I am an old gardener,” said Ms. Margie. “I love green food. When I was a child, we couldn't wait for garden food to come in. My mom and dad knew exactly how to do it. They raised everything.”
Karol said she loves to hear her mother tell stories from the olden days and of midnight suppers with neighbors, when the men all would go hunting at daybreak. She also loves to listen to her mother tell stories about her father with all the little details of the day they first met.
Years of healthy living may have added to Ms. Margie's keen memory but her gleaming eyes tell a story of love, when she speaks about that young seventh-grade boy under the tree at Mortons Gap school.
Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News Director
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