By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Couple in Cumming reflects on 70 years of marriage
Anniversary WEB

Galen Smith remembers a lot of numbers. January 9, 1946. The day he met a nurse at a belated Christmas party. He arrived late, but he made it in time to meet the nurses who attended.

He remembers his first phone number. It was 920r5. If you were calling locally, it meant you had to circle the dial five times. Otherwise you had to go through the operator.

“Back in the dark ages,” he said.

May 19, 1946. The day he married the nurse he met at the belated Christmas party. She asked him to dance.

“It was a very short courtship,” he said. “And we’ve been married ever since, of course. I just knew it the first time that I had some time with her that I loved her and that I thought I would like to marry her. So I guess that’s the reason we didn’t have a long courtship.”

Galen and Adella Smith have been married for 70 years. Another number. Not one that not many people get to tout.

The 96-year-old husband sat next to his 92-year-old wife on their couch in Cumming.

“I don’t think I ever asked you [to marry me] did I?” he asked his wife.

“No.”

“I think we just had a meeting of the mind that we both wanted to marry, so I don’t think I really did ask her,” he said. “For our engagement ring I, of course, couldn’t afford a ring with going to school, so I gave her my fraternity ring.”

18. That’s about how many times they moved. During that time they had two children who are now 52 and 59. Their daughter lives in Cumming.

January 13, 1942. The day Galen Smith enlisted in what was then called the U.S. Army Air Corps. It was a Friday. He served for 19 months before being discharged on a service-connected disability.

He stayed in the country during World War II, and though training was dangerous he was probably better off.

“The crew I trained with, when they were ready to go to north Africa … I was in the hospital, and the crew came up and asked me if I would go with them. And I said only if the doctor would release me, and the doctor wouldn’t release me,” he said. “So I didn’t get to go, and I probably would have been dead because I heard that the whole squadron, flying squadron, got wiped out at the oil fields in Germany.”

That was more than 70 years ago. Before Adella. And he said he forgets some of the details from the war.

What he does remember doesn’t always have a number attached to it. Sometimes it’s more abstract. Like the feeling he had when he and Adella walked on the Great Wall of China. Just a pile of rocks, he said. But nice to see because of the age.

Or how he felt on his first day of school.

“I didn’t want to go to school, and my mother chased me to school,” he said. “I was five, and I wanted to wait until I was 6.”

Or even how he thinks of the past.

“All of the things we didn’t have then, we have now and we really don’t appreciate them like we would appreciate them because we are accustomed to it and we expect it. When the lights go out we think about calling the electric company and asking what’s wrong. Back in those days you were lucky to have one light,” he said.

But one of the things he reflects on most is what he has learned in 70 years of marriage.

“I would say don’t be so critical. Don’t be critical,” he said. “Accept things as they are. And at times you will want to ask people to do things that only you think are right, but they may not be. So be careful in what you ask people to do … Be loving. Be very loving all the time.”