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Washington County couple celebrates 70 years together

December 30, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Gerald "Manny" Ebersole listens as his wife of 70 years, Lorraine, tells stories about their life together Thursday during an anniversary party at Nick's Airport Inn near Hagerstown.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

At a time when divorce seems as common as marriages, Lorraine and Gerald “Manny” Ebersole are living proof that couples can stay together.

About 50 of the Washington County couple’s family members gathered at Nick’s Airport Inn near Hagerstown Thursday afternoon to celebrate a major anniversary milestone.

Fifty years of marriage, you might have guessed?

Higher.

Sixty years?

More.

It has been 70 years since the two teenagers tied the knot on a Christmas night in a church at Antietam and Mulberry Streets in Hagerstown.

The couple had no plans to get married, and Lorraine Ebersole said she had no inkling the two were about to get hitched when Manny came and got her on the night of Dec. 25, 1940.

Manny said he didn’t know the minister at the church, but he knocked on the door and asked him if he could marry them.

Lorraine recalled that the minister and his wife were wearing tasseled nightcaps and were getting ready to go to bed.

But the minister performed the marriage ceremony anyway. Manny recalled the pastor saying that he was going to “tie this knot so tight that you won’t get loose.”

Besides Manny and Lorraine and the pastor, the only other people present were Lorraine’s sister Virginia and the pastor’s wife, the couple said.

“She played the piano for us,” Lorraine said.

After the ceremony, which took place on a Wednesday night, Manny said he went to his home in Charlton, a community south of Clear Spring, and Lorraine returned to her house on Norway Avenue in the west end of Hagerstown.

Lorraine said she and Manny got together the following Saturday. Manny found an apartment for them on South Potomac Street, where they stayed for two weeks.

They got another apartment on Avon Avenue and eventually rented a house across from a grocery store that Manny’s father operated in Charlton.

Manny and Lorraine remember money being tough to come by when they were first married.

“We were so poor the mice left,” Lorraine joked.

Manny provided for his family by going to work for the Fairchild plant during World War II. Manny said he built landing gear for bombers and was told he would not be called for military service as long as he stayed at the job.

In 1945, Manny started his own hardware store in Clear Spring and eventually opened a store on U.S. 40 where he specialized in appliances, plumbing, heating and wiring supplies.

Lorraine also worked in the store, which the couple closed in 1986.

Manny and Lorraine are now 88 years old. They have four children — Richard, Paul, Geraldine and Dorothy — and 10 grandchildren. Their great grandchildren number 26.

On Thursday, guests began filling a banquet room in the restaurant as the couple told their story. Different family members posed with Manny and Lorraine as a photographer snapped portraits.

Tyler Sprecher, the couple’s oldest grandson, was soaking up the moment as he watched from the back of the room.

“We’re pretty proud of them,” Sprecher said.

When asked what led to their marriage’s longevity, Lorraine said  “tolerance.”

“We kept hacking at it. We made it,” Manny said.

The couple, sporting fancy dress attire, found humor in their life story.

When Manny talked about having both knees replaced, Lorraine   jumped in.

“He didn’t wear those out kneeling to me,” she quipped.

The children said that it appears whatever Lorraine and Manny learned in regard to longevity, they passed onto their children.

Geraldine remarked that among the four children, none has filed for divorce.

“That’s amazing as far as I’m concerned,” Geraldine Sprecher said.

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