GAIL WHITE Couple has seen 50 states, 51 years together
As I sat down in Paul and Marion Manchester's Canfield home, I was curious to hear of their retirement travels to all 50 states.
What I heard was a life lesson from two people married 51 years.
"We've been married 51 years already?" Marion said.
"Already" rang in my ears.
I have never heard anyone refer to 50 years as "already" -- let alone in reference to marriage!
I determined to learn more.
"Yes, Dearie," Paul responded to many of Marion's questions. Or, "No, no Dearie," when he believed she was wrong.
Fifty-one years of "Dearie." No wonder it has been "already."
Paul retired as a mailman for the Canfield Post Office in August 1982.
"I spent the winter setting up a route," he explains their travel plans. In July 1983, they set out.
"We were within 100 miles of Interstate 70 on the way out and within 100 miles of Interstate 90 on the way back."
Marion starts to interject, "The St. Louis Arch was incredible ..."
"Just a minute Dearie," Paul says. He has a few more details to explain.
Like a team: After 51 years they are like a sports broadcasting team. Paul is the play-by-play announcer. Marion is the color commentator.
Done with the information, Marion begins. "They ratchet you up the Arch. It's not like an elevator," she says, full of excitement.
"And it's big!" she continues with the same excitement. "It's as wide as ..." she stops and looks at her husband.
"It's as wide as this room," Paul supplies the detail.
Marion continues on with the colorful memories of St. Louis.
Paul sits quietly, interjecting details here and there.
When Marion is through with one city, Paul guides the tour on to the next stop on their trip.
"We have a picture of me on all fours in the four corners," Marion giggles, referring to the point where Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico meet. "A part of me in four states!" she marvels.
"What about you, Paul?" I ask.
"I was taking the picture," he smiles.
In all, their first trip was seven weeks long and they traveled 11,000 miles visiting most of the Western states.
"If we heard of something interesting, we would drive to it," Paul explains their agenda.
Next venture: Their next trip was in 1988. They went to visit their son in Iowa for Christmas.
That trip included a New Year's Day Rose Bowl Parade and an ice storm in Dallas.
"We spent three days in Austin because of that Arctic clipper," Paul recalls.
After visiting most of the Plains states and much of the South, this 9,000-mile trip concluded.
It was around this time when Paul realized he and Marion had traveled through much of the United States. He became determined to do all 50.
Subsequent trips to the East and South in the '90s, combined with earlier trips to Hawaii and Alaska brought them to a total of 49 states in 2000.
North Dakota was their final frontier.
Ironically, they had planned a trip in 1996 to visit their son in Iowa, then travel to North Dakota. "He was transferred to Columbus before we got out there," Paul laughs. "It became a case of how do we get to North Dakota."
This spring, Paul and Marion "retired" as treasurer of the Canfield Methodist Church. They were given a love offering for their 10 years of faithful service.
They used that gift to buy plane tickets to North Dakota where they rented a car and drove nearly 1000 miles around the state.
Paul sits and quietly reminisces while "Dearie" excitedly shares pictures with me of her latest adventure.
"We've had a wonderful time," Marion beams. "You never know what's out in the country or what you will see along the way."
"Or what lessons you will learn," I was thinking as I talked with these two lovebirds married 51 years already.