Longtime valentines: 60-plus years of ‘I’ve got you, baby’
After almost 68 year of marriage for Lawrence and Dot Strickland, Lawrence says, “I don’t think I ever proposed to her. I just took it for granted we would get married.”
They met for the first time in church. Lawrence said, “It was a little log church back in the mountains in West Virginia. She and her two sisters were standing up front just singing their hearts out. For me, it was love at first sight.”
Dot added, “I was going out with another boy at that time, but I dropped him like a hot potato.”
Lawrence was 18, and Dot was 16, so she liked two more years to graduate from school. She graduated the first part of June, and they were married June 22, 1950.
Lawrence had spent a lot of time with his grandparents, so he wanted to see them before they left the next day for Indiana, where they would live. After the wedding, they drove as far as they could, walked a mile up the creek bed and then another half mile up the mountain.
But Grandma had very high morals. She told them if they were not really married, they were not going to sleep in the same bed in her house. So they showed her their marriage license and convinced her they were married. She went into the house and made them up a bed for the night. The next day, they left on their life journey together.
Lawrence, who loves to joke, says, “If I’m not joking around, I’m pushing up daisies, cause I’d be dead.”
Forty years ago, the Stricklands traveled across the bridge at Tecumseh and said they fell in love again. The water was so crystal clear they could see the rocks below. They moved to Gainesville and made Tecumseh their second home. Lawrence enjoys fishing and said for 35 years that was his number one priority. Dot really enjoys reading. So they would park their camper by the lake, and Lawrence would fish and Dot would read.
Their grandchildren spent a lot of time with them at Tecumseh, but Lawrence says he finally got burned out on fishing after 35 years of it. So his interests changed.
They both enjoy music and usually attend some kind of activity with music at least once a week – and if possible, more than that.
They also have a passion for dancing. Every night, they turn on some good fiddle music – usually “Sally Goodin,” they say – and dance to it. Not only for enjoyment but also for exercise. They have also always walked a lot.
Dot fell last July and broke her hip, so dancing and walking are good ways to keep her on her feet. When she was doing three weeks of in-house therapy at a rehab facility, Lawrence just moved in with her. Each night when they went to bed, he would say, “I’ve got you baby, and you’ve got me. That’s enough.”
They agreed years ago not to buy gifts for each other. On their anniversary, Dot says, “I do not cook. We always go out to eat.”
Lawrence said, “We also made another agreement. Dot would always be the boss of the little projects, and I would be boss of the big projects. In 67 years, there has not been one big project come up.”
When asked what they attribute such a long and happy marriage to, Dot laughed and said, “Lawrence always told me it was because he would not allow me to have enough money to go back to Dad’s.”
Lawrence said he did try to return her once and told her dad that he wanted his money back. But her dad replied, “The warranty is already up.” So he had to keep her, he said.
Both Stricklands say they have a lot of fun and are yet to have their first big fight.
Dot said, “I’m sure when we were young, we must have grumbled and growled some, but I don’t remember it.”
They raised two boys and have several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And after all these years together, life is still a lot of fun.
So, on Valentine’s Day, no gifts for these two lovebirds. It’ll be dancing to “Sally Goodin’” and, “I’ve got you baby, and you’ve got me.”