It all started on New Years Eve 1944 at a dance held in Nekoma. Tom Mann shared his first dance with his Mary, the woman he would go on to share 70 years with raising six children and traveling across the country. As were common with the times, both young people learned how to dance.
By Melissa Anderson
“We had strong feelings towards each other at that dance.”
After four years of “courting”, which Tom recounts as being a difficult time for two young people in love, they married in June of 1949.
“We wanted to get married a bit earlier. That four and half years – it was hard sometimes falling in love,” Tom quipped.
It was their mothers that pushed for the two young people to wait until they were 21 years of age before officially tying their lives together in matrimony. Once they had tied that knot, they would bring six children into the world.
“We had lots of children, and we love them,” Mary said.
Even with children and a farm, the Manns always put their efforts in having time for themselves and their family. With a farm to manage, the Manns thanked their wonderful neighbors for helping with chores while they traveled across the continental United States and one trip abroad.
“We were together no matter where we went. When we had time we went on vacation. Stop our work and go on vacation, the work was there when we got back,” Mary said.
This togetherness, Tom believes, is the keystone to the longevity of their marriage. Tom recounted how Mary would stack the haybales in the barn. Time spent milking cows was not spent alone as Mary was right there with Tom on those early mornings. Sharing the burdens of their life didn’t stop at the farm as raising their children also took a partnership.
“It’s so wonderful to be married to him. We get along so good,” Mary shared.
“You have to learn to give and take- that’s the main thing,” Tom added.
Mary and Tom can’t remember any arguments, although they are sure there were a few. No matter how things were, weather good or bad, they worked them out.
“One thing I want to pass on to young people- if you have a have a little dispute don’t sit and argue the point and make it sound worse. You’ve got to try and amend it and make it better,” Tom said.
“We had our love to keep us together, and when something went wrong we would get together and talk it over,” Mary agreed.
At their recent 70th wedding anniversary celebration, Tom and Mary were surrounded by their family. All 49 of them, right down to their youngest great-great-grandchild. What can for certain be learned from Tom and Mary is that marriages like the one they have lived and danced together are only experienced by a lucky few.
“We just loved to dance, and that was what kept us close together.”