By Johnny Jackson
Ralph Pullin studied his words as he spoke delicately about his wife, Tillie, and their 72-year marriage.
"I have authority in my voice, and she doesn't like it," joked Pullin, 89. "You've got to know when to talk and not to talk, and I haven't learned yet."
The Henry County couple plans to quietly celebrate more than seven decades of marriage on Friday.
Tillie Pullin, 86, recalls that the pair met in the 1930s at what was called a "setting up" -- the modern-day equivalent to a wake and family gathering to honor a deceased loved one. The McDonough natives were married soon after, on Sept. 17, 1938, at age 14 and 17.
"We've been together ever since then," said Tillie Pullin.
"They said we wouldn't last more than six months," Ralph Pullin interjected. "I picked out the best girl in Henry County."
"He was a handsome man," Tillie Pullin recollected. "It's been a lovely, good marriage. It was real wonderful. We enjoy it more now because, then, we had to work all the time."
The husband and wife had eight children, adding 50 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren over the course of their marriage. They said they worked hard to pay their bills, while raising their children.
Tillie Pullin said she worked as housekeeper and, at one time, as a supervisor at Atlanta General Depot, now known as Fort Gillem. Ralph Pullin spent about a decade working for Southern States in Hampton, before retiring after 20 years at Snapper Pro Lawn in McDonough.
Part of the couple's longevity, according to Tillie Pullin, has been their religious faith.
"You're not going to have good days always, and you're not going to have bad days always," she said. "But trust God. That's where you get your blessings from. That's what we've been doing all these years -- trusting in God."
Ralph Pullin has been a member of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in McDonough for the past 83 years. His wife said she has been a member of Shiloh Baptist Church in McDonough for nearly as long, at 80 years.
For nearly a century, the Pullin family has managed to harmoniously stay devoted to the century-old churches, both well-known in the Henry County community.
Ralph Pullin credits that sort of wedded bliss to the diplomacy and open communication between he and his wife. He acknowledged that, even after 72 years of marriage, they continue to work at making their union work.
"Give and take, that makes a long marriage,"he said. "Marriage is a job you've got to work at saving. It's worth saving."