James and Ruth Meeks were only teenagers in 1943 when they exchanged wedding vows in Murray County — only two weeks after they met. They lied about their ages. He was 17 and she was 14.
Despite others’ misgivings, their marriage has lasted almost three-quarters of a century. On July 26, 30-some family and friends from Cleveland and Florida joined in the celebration of their 71st anniversary with cake and pizza.
Mr. Meeks was in the military for more than two years and after they married, he was stationed in New York. He then worked in Newburg, New York, as a firefighter and also ran an upholstery shop.
He retired from Maples Chair Company in Cleveland and his wife worked at Charleston Hosiery.
The Meeks couple shared their secrets of keeping their marriage alive — true love for each other and overcoming any differences. Mrs. Meeks said, “Never go to bed when you are mad at each other.”
They recalled memories of what first sparked their interest in each other. Mr. Meeks lived in Cleveland his whole life and his wife moved to Cleveland from Reliance when she was about 6 years old.
The anniversary couple said seeing their grandchildren and great-grandchildren on a regular basis helped keep them together. They have three children: James Meeks Jr., Shirlene Hewitt and Mitchel Meeks, and 11 grand- and great-grandchildren.
The celebration was marked by sharing photos and stories of their 71 years together.
Mr. Meeks said, “Sometimes you have to let things go in one ear and out the other — look at her and say, ‘whatever darling.’”