ELK RIVER, Minnesota (KARE) - In Sherburne County, Minnesota Elk River is the county seat.
In Elk River, Holt Avenue and 5th Street Northwest is the love seat.
"I took one look at him and I said, 'I'm going to marry him," says Gayle Fox about her husband Wally.
The Foxes - who took the plunge in 1959 - count themselves among six couples on their block married more than 50 years.
Across the street live Kathy and Hartley Dahl, who were 17 and 20
when they tied the knot 52 years ago. "He's a good man. He works hard
and he cares about me," says Kathy as she grabs her husband's hand.
Four doors down, Henry and Marion Tembrock have also been together
for 52 years. Henry says that's partly due to his wife's good cooking.
"That's why I have a little extra weight on me," he explains with a smile.
"I didn't put it in your mouth," says Marion, without missing a beat. Humor hasn't hurt their marriage either.
Don Coder and his wife Joyce bring 65 years of marital bliss to the
block. Both believe couples today don't take their vows seriously
enough. "We're from the old school," says Don. "Really old."
But even the Coder's 65 years can't hold a candle to their neighbors
Pearl and Ralph Stahlberg. Two days before Valentine's Day, the
Stahlbergs marked their 70th wedding anniversary.
"Happy as can be," smiles Ralph. "Just like we were in our right minds," adds Pearl as the couple bursts into laughter.
All six couples on the block stuck to their promise for better or
worse. Roger Ostby is now living through the latter. Hannah, Roger's
wife of 64 years, is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's disease. "She
was my sweetheart then and still is, no matter what the circumstances
are," he says.
Roger visits every day. "Hannah, do you love me?" he asks, with his
arm around her shoulders. On good days he gets a response. Today Hannah
is too sleepy to answer.
But there is no doubting Roger still loves Hannah. "Well, I tell you
I think when something like this happens where they're vulnerable, it's
even deeper - the love you have for each other. It is for me."
Perhaps there's something in the water in this neighborhood of love. Or love in the air.
With our nation's fabric ripped by divorce, six couples on the same
block have kept their unions intact for more than half a century each, a
total of more than 350 years.
Newlyweds are welcome, in fact a house sits empty on the block with a "for sale" sign on the lawn.
Feel free to stop by for a while. Maybe 50 years.