Posted on Wed, Mar. 08, 2006

It all started with a game of `post office'

`I'll tell you what, she's been a wonderful wife,' Jesse Myers says


Jesse Myers will always remember The Hook.

It was August 1938. He was at a birthday party. The game was "post office."

A boy chooses a girl and says he has a letter to deliver, but really he gives her a kiss. Then it is the girl's turn to choose a boy.

It was Margaret's turn. She looked out at the boys and chose Jesse, a stranger, gesturing him over with the hook of her pointer finger.

"He said, `Who, me?' and I said, `Yes, you,' " recalls Margaret.

They've been together ever since.

Jesse and Margaret Myers will celebrate 66 years of marriage Thursday. It will be their first anniversary in Charlotte.

The pair married in a courthouse in 1940. They eloped because they feared Margaret's family wouldn't approve. She was 18; he was 5 years older.

Jesse got a job sweeping the floors at Cone Mill in Greensboro. By the time he retired 47 years later, he says, he was in charge of the weave room.

He earned the money; she managed it. The system worked well while raising two sons, building two homes, tending a farm and saving for the future.

That future is here. The two moved from Julian into an apartment at The Laurels in Highland Creek in November.

On the farm, there were multiple freezers for storing slaughtered and butchered pigs and cattle. They grew more vegetables than they could eat.

Now the couple eat in The Laurels dining room or at local restaurants. There's a small sink, microwave and fridge in their one-bedroom apartment for snacks.

"I wanted her to retire," says Jesse, grasping Margaret's hand as they sit on their loveseat. He is 88; she is 83.

"Well, I'm thankful. I think I earned it," says Margaret. She has joined the Red Hat Society and enjoys playing bingo.

Macular degeneration has affected Jesse's vision. He cannot read or drive. Margaret reads to him and helps him keep his diabetes under control.

"I'll tell you what, she's been a wonderful wife. I'll always remember my little hook," says Jesse.

"If I die tomorrow, I can say I was happy."

Is It Rare?

Being married 65 years or longer is remarkable but not extremely rare.Robert Fass, a New York City actor, writer and photographer, has put together a photo essay of longtime married couples. Of the 35 he has met, five were married at least 65 years. He has heard of others celebrating 70- and 75-year anniversaries.

What's Their Secret?

From Jesse Myers: "If you have a little problem, just sit down and talk about it. I never went to bed at night mad at my wife. She is so understanding."

From Margaret Myers: "First, you have to be friends. I always said he was my best friend. I can tell him anything, and he can tell me anything."