PRINCETON — George and Dorothy Dall of Princeton don’t quite remember all the details of their wedding, but that’s understandable — it was 70 years ago, after all.
Back on June 24, 1943, Harry S. Truman was president, “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” by Vaughn Monroe and his orchestra was in the middle of a 12-week run atop the Billboard charts – and it was hot.
“It was real hot,” Dorothy said.
“It was over 100,” George added. “It was hotter than a pistol that week.”
Along with the heat, Dorothy remembers a last-minute scramble to replace a cracked punch bowl before their reception. But despite the high temps and emergency crystal swap, their wedding at St. Matthew’s Church in Princeton went off without a hitch.
And the rest is history – seven decades of it.
What’s it take to foster a 70-year marriage?
“You’ve got to work at it. There’s no other way to do it,” George said. “It’s a give and take.”
“(It takes) a lot of patience,” Dorothy said. “Sometimes he gets kind of irritating – and I’m sure that I do too. But you’ve got to keep your cool.”
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a real argument,” George said.
“We’ve been too busy for big arguments,” Dorothy said with a chuckle.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate. We’ve never really had any serious health problems. We’ve been pretty lucky,” George said.
Dorothy and George met while she worked at the Apollo Theater in Princeton. She was in high school and he was a couple years older and just back from a two-year tour in the Navy from 1945-46. The pair dated for a bit and after Dorothy graduated high school they were married.
“I joked that I got her right out of school before she had any bad habits,” George said with a laugh. “She told me, ‘I got them (bad habits) all from you.’”
The Dalls said they had to scrape by in the early days of raising their four daughters, who were all born between 1950-60.
“Things were tight for a good many years, but we scrimped and saved. We weren’t making any money those days. We got married on $35 a week,” said George, who moved to Illinois in the 1930s after his family’s farm in the Dakotas was lost during the dust bowl. “Now that won’t even go a day. Everything was different.”
Raising four daughters may seem like a handful to the uninitiated – but the Dalls, who still live in the house they finished themselves for their new family in 1949, say they were “extremely fortunate.”
“It was pretty nice, we didn’t have many problems with the girls,” George said.
“The girls were really good kids and they enjoyed their dad,” Dorothy added.
Their home playground and swingset was a hub for children in the neighborhood, and Dorothy made her own flashcards for the girls and neighbor kids to help with their education in the days when preschool wasn’t an option.
“I remember when it was real hot — we didn’t have air conditioning then — we’d hurry up and get our work done and then in the afternoon we’d get on our bicycles and go to the swimming pool, we had a family ticket. And then when George got home from work we’d go again.
“I had no trouble getting them to help with housework, because they knew they’d get to go swimming,” said Dorothy, who was also the family seamstress, making nearly all of the girls’ clothes.
Later in life when their daughters were a bit older, one of the Dalls’ favorite activities was camping. For decades they belonged to a pair of camping clubs and eventually they even used to spend the winter in Texas in their camper after George’s retirement.
George, a lifetime member of the American Legion, worked for the John Deere dealership in Princeton for 50 years before “retiring.” Not one to sit idle, he’s still working at age 91, helping out nearly every day with lawn care and building maintenance at an area farm.
“You got to do something to keep busy, you can’t just sit around,” George said.
For her part, Dorothy keeps busy with house and yard work and “picking up my messes,” as George interjected.
The Dalls are still members of St. Matthew’s Church in Princeton, the site of their wedding on that hot June Saturday, 70 years ago.
“That’s the only church I’ve ever belonged to,” Dorothy said, “We’re still there.”
Chris Yucus can be contacted at (815) 220-6934 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_ChrisYucus.