The day after Valentine's Day will be a special one for Jack and Marketa Andris of Neosho – they will celebrate their 70th anniversary.
The couple was married on Monday, Feb. 15, 1943, in Elk City, Okla.
"We grew up together at Cheyenne, Okla., that is where I went to school and Jack went," said Marketa. "We lived out in the country, but went to Cheyenne (for high school). My mother was a single parent, I lost my daddy when I was 8 years old. She was a school teacher and we moved around a lot, I went to several different schools. But Jack lived in the same area."
Jack remembered his first date with Marketa.
"We lived out in the country. We went to Elk City, I left my billfold at home," he said. "So I went to the barber shop where I got a haircut all of the time, so they cashed a check for me so we would have some money. That was our first date. I took her to the movies, that was the only thing around there."
"I remember our first kiss," she said. "It was where (my) mommy lived."
Asked if Jack asked Marketa before he kissed her, Jack laughed and said, "I slipped up on her blind side."
Jack noted he remembered how pretty she was.
"I was picking cotton… she had pretty hair, she was a nice looking little girl. I thought she was pretty, pretty, pretty," he added.
"Jack was a very good looking," said Marketa.
The couple was asked to talk about their wedding.
"I had an aunt and uncle that went with us to Elk City, picked out my dress and got my hair fixed," she said. "We were going to get married the next day. We were young then, I was 16 and Jack was 19."
"I went to the county seat, got the marriage license, came back," Jack added. "We knew the preacher at the church, he was an old farmer too, he was out in the field doing something with a team of horses. He came in, took his overalls off, put his suit on and married us."
The day after they got married, Jack gave a memorable item to her, one that she still has, along with the same box in which it was presented to her. It was a locket, with two pictures of Jack in it.
In 1944, Jack was drafted into the Army, leaving his wife and 9-month-old son, Jack, Jr., behind to serve with the 7th Army Infantry until he was honorably discharged in 1946. He served nearly two years in England, Belgium, France and Germany.
During his time in the service, Marketa and Jack, Jr., went to stay with her grandparents and she finished school.
Page 2 of 2 - After the service, they moved to Southwest Missouri in 1951.
"Well, we had friends who lived out by Fairview," said Jack. "Came up to see them and it looked so pretty. Out in western Oklahoma, it was dry and the wind blew. It was pretty green up here. Then we moved back home, maybe a year and then came back up here again, looking around, and bought a place out in Fairview."
In 1951, they purchased a farm and raised cattle until they sold it in 1960 and moved to Neosho. During that time, Jack was also employed as a meat cutter, retiring from that job in 1988, and selling the Neosho farm in 1992.
Currently, they live in Neosho. Jack will be 90 this year.
Asked how they will be celebrating their 70th anniversary, Marketa said, "a family dinner with our family. We are really proud of our family."
The couple have two children: son, Jack, Jr.; and daughter, Sherry Sweckard; one grandchild; and two great-granddaughters.
When asked what they would like to pass along to couples to be together for 70 years, they listed a couple of items.
"Communication is one," she said. "Determination because we worked the farm, and family, we have a wonderful grandson and his wife and two grandchildren. Our family has been very important to us."
Their son, Jack, Jr., added something about his folks.
"They are a very loving couple that have endured a lot of things during those 70 years," he said. "They have had to work their entire life to provide for their needs, for my sister and me. They come from 'The Greatest Generation' that didn't do or have the opportunity to do the things people do today. I think their love and respect for each other is hard for them to understand and express, but it is there. Those of my parent's age did not exhibit their emotions like people do today. Their emotions were more private and seldom made public."
Side by side, Jack and Marketa sit in their recliners in their front room, smiling, enjoying each other's company and reflecting on their 70 years together.