Banks couples celebrate 70th double-wedding anniversary May 18 with family, each other

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL  - Lillian and Mack Shafer (left) and Lloyd and Sally Fellas (right) got married 70 years ago in a double-wedding ceremony in Banks. Seventy years ago, at a small double-wedding ceremony in Banks, two couples each vowed to spend their lives with their partners.

They may not have realized how expansive that definition of 'partners' would turn out to be.

Seven decades later, Mack and Lillian Shafer still live within walking distance of Lloyd and Sally Fellas, and the four are almost as devoted to their friendship as they are to their spouses.

The two couples will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversaries together Thursday, May 18, and hold a family party the following Saturday.

So many years later, it's a little hazy how each couple first met.

Sometimes Lloyd says he first saw Sally hitchhiking on the side of the road. Other times, he says he saw her standing on a chair, screaming at a mouse in her house.

"Dad likes to pull your leg," said Joan Smith, Lloyd and Sally's daughter. "He tells a lot of funny stories about how they met."

The tamer, truer version is that Lloyd and Sally met through mutual friends. They started dating when Lloyd returned from serving in Asia in the U.S. Army.

Mack and Lillian met in an old Banks café managed by Lillian's parents, formerly housed in what's now Napa Auto Parts. Mack may have joked that he thought Lillian talked too much, but he kept going back to the café to chat with the pretty teenage girl behind the counter.

At the time, Lillian and Sally were just teenagers, living with their families and attending Banks High School. Shortly after meeting Lillian, Mack shipped out for duty on the San Juan, a cruiser in the Pacific Ocean. While away, he called Lillian and they decided to start their romantic relationship. Stacks of letters later, Mack came back home to Banks.

How did the two couples get together? It was a sibling connection. Mack and Sally are brother and sister.

A quartet forms

In the spring of 1947, Mack decided to marry Lillian around the same time Sally decided to marry Lloyd. Since they'd all gotten to know each other and become friends, they decided to combine weddings at Lillian's family home on Main Street.

Sally was just 16 years old. But she didn't like school so didn't mind dropping out to start a life with her new husband and work in the nearby berry fields.

Lillian's parents, on the other hand, told her she had to graduate from high school before marrying Mack. So Lillian got her diploma at Banks High on a Friday and got married Saturday.

"I talked him into it," Lillian joked of the wedding. "We made the guys say yes before they knew what they'd said."COURTESY PHOTO - Lillian and Mack Shafer (left) and Lloyd and Sally Fellas got married at Lillian's parents' home on Main Street and celebrated with cake and punch.

The wedding ceremony featured cake, punch and three sets of parents as the only guests.

All four remember eating their cake on the old school bus Lillian's dad drove and parked in the driveway. Mack and Lillian later hauled around local children for the Banks School District through their business, Shafer Bus Company.

Sally also remembers being nervous at the wedding. "I just wanted to get it over with," she said.

A few years after the wedding, Mack and Lillian built the home they still live in on Sunset Street.

Lloyd and Sally eventually built a house a few blocks away, but their first home outside the city limits.

There they picked tubs of wild blackberries to sell to railroad workers. They had no lights or running water. Each week, the Fellases bought a large block of ice for their perishables. They took baths in an old wash tub. They didn't have a bed, only a mattress.

But they had each other — and Mack and Lillian.

The good, the bad, the funny

Mack and Lillian once helped Lloyd and Sally wallpaper the front room of their first home. The next morning the paper was all over the floor again. "Too much whiskey," Lloyd joked. NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL  - Sally and Lloyd Fellas still have a good time together -- laughing, joking and teasing often.

An avid hunter and fisher, Lloyd often took Mack with him on his boat. One time the boat quit as the two fished in Astoria while Mack wrangled in a 36-pound salmon. By the time the Coast Guard towed in the boat, Mack and Lloyd found themselves in Washington. Mack ran to buy a Washington fishing license before anyone noticed him. "He was so proud of that fish," Lloyd remembered.

The four also took trips together. They went to Reno a few times and once, on their way to Crater Lake, Mack took a shortcut that sent the car through shallow streams and over bumpy dirt paths.

They've also helped each other through tough times. Lloyd and Sally lost their daughter to cancer last year, for example, and Mack has been undergoing dialysis.

"Some good things, some bad things — that's life," Lloyd said.

"Be happy with what you have and if something is wrong trying to straighten it out," Lillian said.

"You've got to give and take and try to get along," Sally added. NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL  - Lillian and Mack Shafer hauled the town's children all around for the Banks School District through their business, the Shafer Bus Company, which longtime employee Shirley Soper described as 'more like a family.'

Mack and Lillian and Lloyd and Sally have celebrated nearly every anniversary together. For larger milestones like their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries, they invited the community to join them.

Mack and Lillian's daughter, Shari Shafer, has always admired her parents' relationship. "It's special in this day and age that they've stayed together," she said. "They love each other. They're each other's whole lives."

Joan said of her parents, Lloyd and Sally, and of her aunt and uncle: "I think it's awesome all four can celebrate together. What a wonderful relationship the four of them have."

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL  - Mack and Lillian and Lloyd and Sally celebrated nearly all their anniversaries together and held larger parties for milestones such as their 25th and 50th.

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