Bonnie Janes’ house is a shrine to all she has experienced in her life.
The 83-year-old Adair County native has photos of family members on the walls of her living room and up and down the halls leading to her bedrooms. Each of the pictures tell a story and means a lot to Bonnie.
Something else that means the world to her is her six-decade marriage to Ollen, and together they will celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary on Tuesday.
“I just kind of knew he was the one for me,” said Bonnie. “I wasn’t nervous about getting married because a lot of people were getting married at a young age back then. And I really believed and knew with all my heart that when I made my vows, that meant forever. That’s what I intended.”
Ollen, now 87, started courting Bonnie at the age of 17. He was the elder by four years but had known Bonnie for a long time as they grew up together around the Milltown area.
“We lived close together as we grew up about a mile or two apart and attended church together,” Ollen said. “On our first date, I walked up the road probably six miles to Pollard’s Chapel. They were having an all-day singing and dinner on the grounds.”
“Ollen came over to the church and wanted to know if he could come in and sit by me. That was our first date,” Bonnie chimed in. “I had noticed Ollen before that day, and I had sent him a Valentine’s Day card to let him know I liked him. …I heard he actually threw the card away.”
Ollen laughs and says he doesn’t remember throwing the card away, but that didn’t seem to hurt the relationship at all. The relationship continued for four more years before they married on Feb. 8, 1956. Ollen left for Korea two months later.
“A couple of months after getting married, Ollen was drafted and left for 16 months. That, I guess probably brought us together more than it hurt us,” said Bonnie. “Being apart put a lot of strain on us; we didn’t get to see each other for a long time. I went to stay with family most of the time while he was gone.
“We had always gone to church throughout our time together and I think God played a big role in helping
us get through that time in our lives.”
Bonnie and Ollen have one son, Barney, who lives in the same community where he grew up.
The couple said they can’t really remember any arguments they’ve had over the years. They are sure they’ve had some, but they must not have meant much because nothing really comes to mind.
“We never really had any problems,” Ollen laughed. “If Bonnie was upset with me, I usually left and went to the store. I think that’s the best way. It allows you to relax and then you can come back.”
All kidding aside, Bonnie said communication is the key to a long marriage. Talking through issues, she said, allows them to work through it.
“You also need to be ready to work at your marriage. Sometimes, people want to leave for any little thing. Talk to one another, if you are having problems, talk to each other or find someone to help counsel you.
“I think couples need God’s help. They need to remember that each of them is different, so there is some give and take in the marriage.”
“I would tell anyone getting married they need to go to church together. That is so important,” said Bonnie.
By Scott Wilson