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James and Carol Carthel, Elliot and Marina McIntire married in their early 20s -



Long-lasting love is in bloom at Rose Villa, where two couples who moved into the community last October met to compare notes about their decades-long marriages.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Elliot and Marina McIntireAnd as expected, they have some ideas about why their marriages have lasted so long, and they have one or two funny stories about their spouses.

James and Carol Carthel were married on Dec. 22, 1956, so they’re coming up on their 60th anniversary this year, while Elliot and Marina McIntire married in January 1963, and just celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary.

James and Carol Carthel

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Carol and James Carthel, married nearly 60 years; James is holding a basket he wove from a yucca plant. Elliot and Marina McIntire are pictured wearing sweaters hand knit by Marina.James was 21 and Carol 20 when they married in Texas. The pair met while enrolled in the Texas Tech School of Music, so it is no surprise that music has been a constant and unifying factor in their marriage.

In fact, Carol said that their “shared appreciation of classical music” is one of the most important reasons the marriage has lasted so long and been so successful.

James worked as a choral music instructor in Texas before becoming a school administrator. Carol worked as an elementary school teacher before becoming a stay-at-home mom for their son and daughter.

She sang in the Houston Symphony Chorus for 28 years, and James sang in it as well, for 10 years.

Both of their families were musical, but when James’ family celebrated holidays, they needed to rent a hall, Carol said, to accommodate the nearly 75 musicians and singers who came together.

Traditions, advice

Another commonality is that both James and Carol were raised on farms and they have continued traditions like canning and making jam.

When they were in the process of moving from Texas to Portland last fall, James discovered apples on the ground at the resort they were staying at in Taos, N.M., so they made apple preserves in their hotel kitchen.

James added that they once made plum preserves on a camp stove.

This long-married couple does have some advice for young people just starting married life.

“Don’t count on everything being straight and smooth. Keep an eye on the original idea you had by joining together,” James said, while Carol added, “Try to do as much as you can together.”

And realize that there will be some hard choices ahead, James added.

“When I finished my graduate work, I got an offer to go to Orange County to interview for a job, but our children were 3 and 5 at the time, so I didn’t go. That was the first time I realized it wasn’t just about me. That was a benchmark for me, and that was where I needed to be,” he said.

Elliot and Marina McIntire

Elliot and Marina McIntire married in January of 1963, when Elliot was 22 and Marina was 20. They met in college at the University of California at Riverside, where Elliot was studying geography and Marina was a double major in English and French.

After they graduated, they moved to Baltimore so that Elliot could go to grad school at Johns Hopkins; they spent two years there, then moved to Eugene for two more years of grad school.

While Marina took care of their two sons, Elliot was hired to teach geography at California State University at Northridge; he spent 37 years there, before retiring in 2004.

Their hobbies include a love for classical music and concerts, reading and bird watching.

Longevity, advice

What is the secret to the longevity of their marriage?

“We talk to each other. It may get tough, but you stick to it and get through it,” Elliot said.

He added, “You have to recognize that the other person will grow and change, and you have to accommodate for that. You are not always going to get your way, and you have to make some adjustments.”

As for advice to young people, Marina said they should “go back and think it through. Take [getting married] seriously and think hard.”

Traveling

Reflecting back on their first several years of marriage, Elliot recalled a certain Renault that caused the couple a bit of grief. Now they can look back and laugh, but at the time it was not funny, they said.

When it came time for them to move to Baltimore, Marina was pregnant, so she flew back East, while Elliot and a friend packed up the Renault and headed for Maryland.

The car lost all power outside Kansas, and Elliot had it towed to a garage. The mechanic couldn’t pronounce the name of the car and didn’t know where the engine was supposed to be.

At that point Elliot was fairly sure he was going to be stuck in Kansas, and jokingly said he considered making a downpayment on a house.

The problem turned out to be a faulty timing gear, which strangely enough was made not from metal, but from fiber board. So where in Kansas would he be able to find something like that?

Well, it turned out that the mechanic knew “a fellow down the road who works on power mowers, and he had a stack of Renault timing gears. We were only delayed for three hours,” Elliot said.

But the Renault had one more trick up its sleeve.

As the couple and their young son were driving back to California two years later, the car died in Columbus, Ohio. There was no repairing it this time, so they had to fly home.

“There we were with a [nearly 2 year-old] kid; we were hot, tired and hungry, and when we got to the airport, all I could find to feed him was ice cream bars,” Marina said.

Meanwhile they acquired a box at the airport, packed up their possessions and checked the box through to California.

“Then our son needed a clean diaper,” Marina said.

So Elliot took a cab to a department store and bought a box of diapers.

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