Valentines for life

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 14, 2006

For Eddie and Gertrude Carter, Valentine’s Day isn’t a big deal anymore. After all, it has been more than 70 years since Cupid’s arrow struck them and made them fall in love.

“I was living in Alfalfa [a Demopolis neighborhood] and she lived in what they called Sharps near Arcola Road,” Eddie said about him and his wife nearly 75 years ago. “I started going over there to the school where her cousin used to teach and that was the first time I saw her.”

But too shy to hold a conversation, Eddie and Gertrude kept their distance until a few days later, when their daughter Bernice Carter Richardson said “divine fate” brought them together.

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“We had service at church one night and when the man was done preaching, he started having a revival,” Eddie said. “Then he told people to find someone who they had enough confidence in to pray for them. That’s when she got up and found me and ran over to me.”

“I didn’t go to him,” Gertrude laughed. “I don’t remember running to him.”

But they both agreed that the courtship began that night.

“While I was over there, she fell in love with me,” Eddie said about their teenage encounter. “I was young, she was young and I liked her too.”

So, Eddie began to “court” Gertrude before he asked her to marry him three years later.

“I had a nice automobile and I taught her how to drive in it and I had a real nice saddle horse that I would ride over there sometimes,” Eddie said. “Three or fours years later, I said ‘How about we get married?’ everyone else was doing it and it was kind of normal to get married at that age.”

Without giving him an answer, Gertrude told Eddie he would have to take it to her mother.

“When I finally got up the nerve to ask her mom, she said yes,” Eddie said. “And on the 26th day of January in 1936 we got married.”

After the ceremony, they newlyweds spent their first night together in their Demopolis home by the fireplace.

“I didn’t think we’d be married when I first met him,” Gertrude said. “Not this long either.”

“We made a covenant to honor and cherish until death do us part,” Eddie said. “And I’m still living and she’s still with me.”

The Carter’s have five children Steve Carter of Denver, Co., Bernice Carter Richardson (Robert) of Hunstville, Richard Carter (Ernestine) of Huntsville, Norman Carter (Bettie) of Cleveland, Ohio and Robert Carter (Angernette) of Selma, who have all learned how to love from their parents.

“When we were at the party celebrating their 70th anniversary Saturday, we kept asking mama if she needed anything and she’d say no. Then I turned around and daddy would have gotten her a blanket. I looked at them again a few minutes later and she was filing his fingernails,” Bernice said about the couple’s anniversary party at Napoleon’s in Demopolis. “One thing I’ve started to notice is how much they care for each other and how they do it in their own way.”

“A big part of them being together is good treatment,” their oldest son Steve said. “Whatever came up, they worked it out.”

Since day one of their relationship, Eddie said neither one of them has ever walked out on the other.

“We haven’t been separated since the day we got married,” he said. “We’ve been doing mighty well through life.”

Gertrude said the secret is prayer.

“I pray a lot,” she laughed. “A whole lot.”

And even though they don’t have big plans to celebrate the holiday, Eddie said they hope to be able to spend another Valentine’s Day together.

“What are we going to do?” he asked, “Try to make it to another one.”