Place of Marriage: Webster, S.D.
How did they meet?
They met at a wedding. Arlene's cousin got married in Paynesville, and Arlene, originally from Balaton, Minn., south of Marshall, was a bridesmaid and Manford, born and raised on a farm north of Paynesville, was the best man.
Who proposed and how?
Manford proposed during a drive around Rice Lake about a year after they met at the wedding. During that year, Manford had visited Balaton a couple of times and they had stayed in contact with letters. Arlene was visiting Paynesville for a few months, staying with her cousin, when they got engaged.
How long were they engaged?
A couple months.
How did they get married?
Manford was driving Arlene back home to Balaton at the end of her stay in Paynesville.
On the way, though, they decided to get married right away, so in Marshall they turned west and drove to Webster, S.D. They had a blood test, got their license, and got married. Then they drove back to Paynesville that same day.
Their parents were both mad at them for getting married so fast. Manford's parents were planning a large wedding, which they did not want to have.
Arlene's parents were so upset with their marriage that they waited six months to visit them. They thought she was too young to get married and told them that the union would not last.
Manford and Arlene recently celebrated their 60th anniversary.
How did they celebrate?
Their favorite celebration was the neighborhood shivaree. This tradition had neighbors coming to the house unexpectedly, banging pots and pans to announce their arrival.
Around 30 neighbors - all we could fit in the house, said Manford - came to the Theel farm a couple weeks after they got married, as they were getting ready for bed. Normally, couples were expected to serve candy and fruit, but because of rationing for World War II they had no candy in the house. Manford's dad did go to town and buy apples and oranges for the impromptu guests.
What did they get for presents?
Each of their families held a shower for them following the wedding, one in Paynesville and the other in Balaton. For gifts, they got household items: pots and pans, sheets and blankets, towels, etc.
Manford likes to say that his dad gave him $20 - to drive Arlene home - and that they drove to South Dakota, purchased the wedding license and paid for the blood test, and returned home with a couple bucks left.
Their most memorable gift came from Arlene's parents, who gave them a sow several months after they got married. That sow had nine piglets, and then they sold all those pigs.
Where did they go
for a honeymoon?
They never took a honeymoon, just made that daytrip to South Dakota. Arlene says that she can't get Manford away from home, and Manford agrees, saying he does not like to be away from home overnight.
What do they do to keep
romance alive in their marriage?
They like to go to garage sales together, and they like to tease and joke with each other. For their 60th anniversary, some friends told Arlene that they wanted to give her a sympathy card! Manford said he even feels sorry for Arlene, having to put up with him all these years.
Arlene said it was easier to get along with Manford when they both worked, since they worked different hours. Now, in retirement, they both are home together! But at least Manford sleeps a lot, she said.
If they could travel back
in time to their wedding day,
what advice would they give themselves?
"Maybe I should have just taken her home," jests Manford.
"Yes," retorts Arlene.
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