Town Crier News Staff
Murel and Linnie Rice of Manila do not have any secrets to attribute to their long, successful marriage. They just agree they have been blessed.
Mr. and Mrs. Rice will celebrate their 74th anniversary Oct. 7.
On Saturday, Oct. 7, 1933, the couple exchanged wedding vows in Manila and said they would do it all over again.
"In those days, our town was full of people on Saturday nights," Mrs. Rice said. "Murel had worked all day hauling cotton to the gin and about 11 p.m. we went to the home of Mr. Needham, the justice of the peace, and we were married. We had a lot of friends and family with us."
They met at the age of six. Their families lived about a quarter of mile from each other south of Manila. Mrs. Rice is one of three children of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Mifflin. Mr. Rice was one of six children of Ben and Ida Belle Rice. They were born the same year and attended the Daugherty School.
Mrs. Rice turned 93 on Sept. 2 and Mr. Rice will turn 93 on Oct. 3.
"I always said I am the boss because I am a little older," Mrs. Rice said. "We married on Saturday, got up and cooked breakfast on Monday and went to work. We have been working ever since."
At the age of 19 they married and moved into a three room "shotgun" house on the Bollinger Farm. In those days there was no running water and no electricity but it was their first home and Mrs. Rice said it was "just fine."
"It was home and we loved it," she said.
Later they rented 40 acres from Mrs. Rice's mother. It had an old house on it. Mr. Rice tore down the house and built a new two-room house.
The house burned and later they built the house they are now living in. When they moved to town in 1957, they moved their house with them.
"I went to work one morning living in the country and when I got off work, we were living in town," Mrs. Rice said. "They moved our house and didn't even break an ashtray."
Throughout their years of marriage, and still today, they enjoy life.
They married in what the history books call The Great Depression era.
"The Depression was not over when we married," Mr. Rice said.
"Even though it was during the depression, we were not depressed," Mrs. Rice said. "We were poor, everyone was poor. We worked, we grew our own food, we had cows, pigs, horses and chickens, and we had fun."
Mr. Rice said cotton picking paid about 75 cents a hundred pounds.
"We learned to take care of what we had in those days," he said.
They even helped build a church.
"We named it Walnut Grove Church because it was built in a grove full of walnut trees," Mrs. Rice said. "People came from all around. We all picked cotton to buy the windows. Each one of us bought a window for the church. The church was built on Velma William's dad's land. We had a lot of good services and big dinners at the church."
Mr. Rice can remember his dad buying 40 acres of land for $2,000. He also remembers his first car, a 1923 Model T.
"I was just a kid but I liked that car," Mr. Rice said. "The roads were not real good back then and it made for a rough ride."
The couple recalls always having something to do. They enjoyed riding horses, visiting with friends, country dances, going to baseball games, rodeos, or taking a picnic lunch out to the lake.
"We could get anything we needed right here in Manila," he said.
During World War II Mr. Rice served in the Army and Mrs. Rice followed along getting to see new places and making new friends.
"Murel was blessed and did not have to go overseas during his Army years," Mrs. Rice said. "He was a driver and drove a Jeep and later drove a truck. I went to Portland, Oregon, and on to Washington when he was stationed there. I rented a room from a lady and made some wonderful friends. We were a long way from home. When he was sent to California, I came back home to Manila. I picked cotton while I was waiting on him to return."
Mr. Rice said he made about $21 a month when he first went into the Army and later made $35 a month.
When his tour of duty was over, they returned to the farm in Manila.
They both worked at the Manila Nursing Home for several years and Mrs. Rice also worked at the Shaneyfelt Hospital, and later for Mrs. Shaneyfelt.
They are retired now but still stay busy. They take care of their own home, yard work, and Mrs. Rice still enjoys cooking.
They attend the Pentecostal Holiness Church where they have been going a long time.
"I thank the Lord for every day we have enjoyed," Mrs. Rice said.
They have seen a lot of changes in the area.
"People have a lot more today but people had more fun years ago," Mrs. Rice said. "There was a lot of laughter and people took time to really get to visit and get to know each other."