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Couple celebrates 71 years together

December 19, 2000

Couple celebrates 71 years together



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Roy and Margaret MayBREATHEDSVILLE - When 15-year-old Sharpsburg farm girl Margaret Leatherman met 17-year-old Hagerstown coal yard worker and part-time farm hand Roy May in 1927, she knew she'd found the love of her life.

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She was right.

After a stealthy courtship, Margaret and Roy married on Dec. 14, 1929.

Seventy-one years, two children, five grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, one great-great grandchild and no regrets later, the couple celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary at the Breathedsville home they built in the early 1940s.

"I think I'd do the same thing over," said Margaret, 88. "He's been a good man."

"We always got along good," said Roy, 90. "It's been a good life."

On a firm foundation of family support, the Mays built a strong marriage by communicating well, making joint decisions and working together, Margaret said.

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"They've just always been very loving towards each other," said the Mays' niece, Donna Miner. "And they've always been willing to lend a hand."

The couple said they were in love when they got married and that their many years together have cemented their bond.

"We always enjoyed each other's company," Margaret said. "It seems like a lot of times we even think alike."

As a schoolgirl, Margaret heard so much about Roy from a friend who was interested in his brother she felt like she knew him before they met, she said.

Roy would walk miles from his job on a Sharpsburg farm to meet Margaret at the town library, where she told her parents she was going to study. During the clandestine meetings, the couple eventually discussed marriage.

Margaret, whose father died shortly after he met Roy for the first time, said she was anxious to set up her own home to relieve pressure on her newly widowed mother.

When an unsuspecting Roy showed up at her doorstep on the evening of Dec. 14, 1929, Margaret decided the time was right.

She remembered answering the door wearing a new black satin jumper.

"It was so sudden," Margaret said. "I told him, 'This is it now.' "

She affectionately calls her husband "Mo" for a reason.

"He has one speed- and it's slow," Margaret said. "The Mays are good as gold. They just have to have a little push."

Roy drove around the block twice before getting up the nerve to stop at Grace Evangelical Brethren Church in Hagerstown. The Rev. G.I. Rider married the couple in the parsonage, Margaret said.

"I loved her at that time," Roy said.

Several months after they married, Roy landed another coal yard job for $17 a week. The couple set up housekeeping in half of Margaret's older brother's Sharpsburg house.

Despite the Depression, the newlyweds "got along just fine," Margaret said.

They bought a new mohair living room suite and splurged on a sweeper for $25 a week, she said.

In April 1930, Margaret gave birth to a daughter, Lorraine Draper. Sixteen months later, Roy May Jr. was born.

Margaret said her husband had a bad habit of cutting down her flowers in the yard, but he continued throughout their life together to be a kind, loving, gentle and generous man who displayed genuine concern for others. Roy never drank or smoked and always treated her with respect, Margaret said.

That's why she said she made a commitment to herself and God to take care of Roy, who now suffers from dementia, Margaret said.

"Tell you the truth," Roy said, "I can't think like I used to."

The details might be fuzzy, but Roy May said he and wife have always looked out for each other and done things together.

"She keeps my clothes clean. She's a good cook, bein' a girl off a farm," he said.

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