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Just 0.01 percent of American couples ability the mark James and Mattie Barber are about to achieve.

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The Swatara Twp. brace will bless their 70th wedding ceremony afterwards this month.

Mattie Bowden was aloof 17 back she affiliated Jim, 20, in her mother’s home on Wallace Street in Harrisburg on a abatement day in 1948.

He had appear from South Carolina to appointment an aunt in Harrisburg in 1946. What was declared to be a abbreviate vacation angry into a lifetime back he met Mattie.

“She was what I wanted, and she agreed,” Jim said.

Together they formed and aloft seven children, who ambit in age from 68 to 51. The ancestors additionally includes nine grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

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On holidays and appropriate occasions they all appear home for what the ancestors calls “chat and chew,” area everybody catches up and pitches in to help.

“We don’t go out much,” Mattie said. “We don’t affliction to go out. Best of our parties are here.”

The Barbers bought their home cast new in 1972. For 20-plus years, I anesthetized that abode every time I went in and out of my development. In all that time, I never saw a weed.

At 90, Jim still patrols that backyard daily, attractive for annihilation that doesn’t belong. He mows. He trims trees. He walks the ambit with their little dog, Princess.

Ten years ago, back they acclaimed their anniversary, their church, Greater Zion Missionary Baptist in Susquehanna Twp., gave him a plaque. It accepted Jim for actuality “a godly archetypal of authoritative the following of accurate adulthood a constant priority.”

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In added words, he’s a man to admire.

Three years afterwards they were married, Jim was drafted. He spent three years in the military, including a assignment in Okinawa. Mattie lived with her mother until he returned.

The brace weren’t allowed to the bigotry of the times. Back Jim accustomed in Harrisburg, he was assassin as a bellman at the absolute Penn Harris hotel. He could backpack bags, but he could not accept backward there.

In 1947 he began alive at the Olmsted Air Force Abject for 82 cents an hour. Back the abject phased out, he transferred to the Mechanicsburg Navy Depot, area he formed until retirement in 1983.

Mattie, who abounding absolute schools in North Carolina until her ancestors confused to Harrisburg, said they were one of two atramentous couples who confused into homes on all-white Minnich Street in 1955. Soon after, they came home to acquisition every added abode on the block for sale.

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In the aboriginal canicule of her marriage, Mattie formed at the Harrisburg Children’s Dress Company at Howard and 14th streets. Afterwards she formed at Blue Shield until retirement in 1993.

Mattie lists the success of her accouchement as an achievement.

“They all accelerating and they all work,” she said. “I acknowledge God for that.”

One grandson took a abrupt amiss turn, she said, “but he pulled himself up. He’s got two jobs, and I’m so appreciative of him.”

Their daughter, Lavern Barber, describes her parents as adorable and God-fearing.

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As children, she said, she and her brothers and sisters consistently had what they bare and best of what they wanted.

“I didn’t apprehend we were poor until I got grown-up,” she said.

Mattie said she isn’t attractive for a big ceremony celebration.

“I don’t like parties,” she said. “I acknowledge (our children) demography affliction of themselves and their families.”

These canicule the brace spends their time quietly. Back Jim isn’t analysis the lawn, he plays Solitaire on his buzz and works chat puzzles.

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Mattie is an conductor in their abbey and enjoys day trips on the bus with the abbey seniors. At home, she spends time account the Bible on her laptop.

Of their marriage, she said, “It’s been a actual acceptable 70 years. We put up with anniversary other. He’s consistently been a acceptable husband, and I try to be a acceptable wife.”

Apparently, it worked.

NANCY ESHELMAN: [email protected]

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