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Couple celebrates 70 years

February 15, 2007|by JANET HEIM

It was frowned upon for a man to marry an older woman when Walter Lee Gosnell and Huldah Easton got married 70 years ago this Sunday.

Because Huldah is about nine months older than Walter, who goes by Lee, she wanted to make sure they married during the three-month period when they are the same age.

Thus, Feb. 18, 1937, was chosen for their wedding date - 10 days before her 23rd birthday. His birthday is May 5.

Back then, it didn't take much to plan a wedding. Huldah chose a blue dress with pink flowers for the ceremony at the parsonage of Central United Brethren Church in Rohrersville.

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Guests were limited to immediate family. After the service, those present changed and went to the social at the Rohrersville band hall. They didn't tell anyone they were married and during the games, Huldah beat her new husband in the spelling bee.

Lee Gosnell remembers that the marriage license cost $2.25 and that not many people had that kind of money to spare during the Depression.

"It was give and take," Huldah Gosnell said.

"I'd do it all over again, even with the little arguments we've had," Lee Gosnell said. "As soon as I had my say, I was done with it. She'd remember it a week later."

The newlyweds moved into Gosnell's family home in Trego in southern Washington County, where the couple lived for 63 years. Then, seven years ago, they moved to an assisted-living cottage at Ravenwood Lutheran Village in Hagerstown.

Both grew up in railroading families.

Lee Gosnell was born in Brunswick, Md. He was to be the middle child, with a brother and a sister.

The family moved to Trego when Lee was in the sixth grade. He said it was almost a two-mile walk to the closest bus stop that would take him to Boonsboro schools. Or, with his father being a railroad employee, Lee could ride the train to school in Brunswick at no charge.

Lee chose Brunswick, graduating from high school in 1931, because Frederick County had only three years of high school.

Huldah Easton was born and raised in Rohrersville with two brothers and an older sister. She graduated from Boonsboro High School, which required four years, in 1932.

Huldah and Lee met when they were children. They lived about a mile and a half away from each other. It wasn't until junior year of high school that they started dating seriously.

Huldah's father lost his job during the Depression. Before her marriage, Huldah worked at Edwards 5 & 10 on West Washington Street in Hagerstown.

After deducting for transportation and other expenses, the Gosnells calculated that Huldah was making 28 cents a day, so they decided she might as well stay home.

Their only child, Sandra Ann, whom they called Ann, was born in 1939. She now lives in Kentucky.

While he was still single, Lee Gosnell worked for a Civilian Conservation Corps camp for 18 months at Green Ridge, then at another camp close to Oakland, Md., hitchhiking back and forth to home.

He took the train to Washington, D.C., to take classes at Strayer College, but his help was needed to support his family. Lee got a job on the B&O Railroad as an engineer, which he did for 35 years.

His job took him away from home a good bit, leaving Huldah, who doesn't drive, on her own with Ann and dependent on neighbors for support.

Lee's father had died before the couple married and his mother lived with them the first several years of their marriage before she moved to Braddock Heights, Md.

"I kept the home fires burning," Huldah said.

Huldah also worked their substantial garden, which provided a good portion of their food throughout the year.

Laughter and the support of family and their church community have contributed to their longevity, both in life and marriage.

Huldah has attended Central United Brethren Church since birth, and Lee and his family started going there when they moved to Trego.

Huldah knitted and crocheted afghans for church, sang in the choir and was church secretary for many years. Lee taught Sunday school and helped with building projects around the church.

The couple always have done things together. They like to travel and enjoy going on day trips with groups from Ravenwood. Their sister-in-law, Darc Easton, said the companionship and love they have for each other is a model for many.

Easton is helping plan a celebration at Ravenwood Sunday on their 70th anniversary. She expects about 100 people, including their only grandson and his wife, who will make the trip from Denver.

"We didn't plan on 70 years together," Lee said.

"I had no idea," Huldah said. "We've been blessed to come this far together."

At Sunday's celebration - as on their wedding day - both will be the same age - 92.

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