Photo by Curt Yeomans
Morrow residents, Lola and Horace Carmichael, are expected to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary this summer. They said their marriage has survived by being filled with love, respect, trust and understanding.
Horace and Lola Carmichael did not have the type of big, extravagant wedding commonly associated with royalty and Hollywood celebrities. It was a rather simple ceremony, held on the porch of Lola Carmichael’s mother’s home near Forsyth, Ga.
There were no floral arrangements, they said. The only decoration, in fact, was a simple white sheet the mother of the bride laid out for the Morrow couple to stand on during the July 25, 1947 ceremony.
More than 50 wedding guests stood in the front yard. Before, and after, the ceremony, some of the attendees went to a nearby watermelon patch to pick watermelons for the reception, the couple recalled.
“The main thing is love each other,” said Lola Carmichael, 82. “[It does not matter] if you don’t have flowers, and all that. Just love, and stay together.”
This summer will mark the 65th anniversary of their wedding. Since that first time exchanging vows, they have renewed their pledges to love and honor each other on two occasions. The first was on their 50th wedding anniversary, in 1997, and the second, on their 60th anniversary, in 2007.
They’ve had eight children (six still alive), 14 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
They firmly maintain that the best thing about being married is the “love,” “respect,” and “trust” they have for one another. “We’ve had ups and downs, but you pray, and go to the Lord, and he’ll guide you,” Lola said.
Horace Carmichael, 84, a steward emeritus at Mathalama African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Morrow, quickly added: “Really, I don’t think we’ve had too many ups and downs in our lives.”
The Carmichaels said they first met in late 1944, when Lola came up to visit, and eventually moved in with her aunt, in Morrow. Horace lived in the same neighborhood as Lola’s aunt. “She came up here to see her auntie, and we started off talking to one another from there,” he said.
“I started feeling love the first time I met her,” he said. Lola said they began dating a month after they met. “The way he talked, I thought he was a nice person,” she said.
Horace said he and Lola went to local “hot spots,” where people went to dance, but he said he was not a good dancer, so they mainly left the two-stepping to the other couples. “Mostly, we just wanted to be together,” he said.
A few months after they met, Horace went into the U.S. Marine Corps. He spent the next two-and-a-half years stationed in Guam, while Lola stayed in Georgia. They stayed in touch by frequently writing letters to each other. It was not long after his return from the Pacific that they were married.
Lola let out a laugh when recalling the people who went to the watermelon patch to pick watermelons on the day of the wedding. “It was just funny that they went to a watermelon patch [when they were there for a wedding],” she said. “For one thing, some of the people went to the watermelon patch, and they missed the wedding. When they got back, we had already got married ... They missed the wedding!”
Horace stressed that the key to making a marriage last 65 years can simply be summed up in one word –– understanding. “The biggest thing is understanding, and not being jealous,” he said. “Some people are so jealous, they don’t trust one another. I think that’s the biggest thing in life. They’ve got to trust one another, and love has got to be in there.”
Trellis Henson, one of the couple’s daughters, said she and her siblings were better parents for their own children because of the example set by her parents. “They have been very supportive, in helping us to make [good] decisions throughout our lives,” she said. She added that she has learned that marriage is a “give-and-take” process, by watching her parents. “You learn everything is not all about you, but it’s about the [family] unit,” the daughter said.
Horace simply said his lengthy marriage to Lola, and the large family produced by their love for each other, has been a lifelong dream come true for him — ever since he and his wife exchanged vows on her mother’s front porch, nearly 65 years ago.
“Ever since I was a little boy, I was thinking that I wanted to have a family that I was able to take care of, and have somewhere for them to live, and that we’d be able to get along without having any fussing and fighting,” he said. “Thank God, it has worked out pretty near to what I was wishing it to be.”