OSAGE — For nearly 70 years, Gene and Monica Smith have literally weathered many storms throughout their marriage. It’s not relational problems that have plagued their happy marriage, but weather-related incidents.
Their paths first crossed when they worked as Northwestern Bell employees.
“I was working on a construction crew putting up telephone lines in the Gunder area before we met,” Gene said.
“It was a blind date. Three linemen worked for the telephone company, and there were three of us telephone operators,” Monica said. “The other two operators were going with the other two linemen. They set up a blind date for Gene and me.”
“I had gone out with several guys, but when mother met Gene she said, ‘You quit going out with those other guys and you go out with him,’” said Monica with a smile. “I just minded my mother, who really liked him.”
All three couples got married in 1949.
For the Smiths, weather has claimed more than its share of attention over the years.
“I was in the Charles City telephone office when the tornado struck in 1968,” Gene said. “After the storm passed, we ran into the operators’ room to check on them. No one was hurt, but part of the room’s roof was taken off. That was around 4 p.m. I spent the rest of the night relaying messages to the hospital. That happened on Wednesday, and I didn’t get home until midnight on Thursday.”
“What I remember was I thought something had happened to him,” Monica said.
“Because Dad was often called out to restore telephone service, sometimes he missed some of our events,” added daughter, Cheryl Gast.
The weather even invaded vacations.
The family was in a cabin northeast of Rochester, Minn., when a park ranger awoke them, warning them flood waters were rising. The Smiths quickly evacuated.
“We drove into a stream of water and the car stopped. ... Our dog was lost in the water, but later we found him alive under some debris,” Monica said.
The park ranger returned them to their cabin after the water receded. They found the cabin hadn’t even been touched.
“The next morning when we got the car, we discovered a very large hole about 6 feet wide in front of where it had stalled,” Gene said.
The Smiths, who will celebrate their 70th anniversary on July 31, both enjoy producing art. Monica paints while Gene uses small bits of wood to create his pictures. Gene also builds the frames for Monica’s art work.
Asked about their marital success, Gene replied, “We depend on one another. We just got along real good. She was the only one I ever went with.”
“He was very thoughtful and quiet. We don’t travel, but we have coffeed a lot with friends. We have been in a 500 card club for 40 years. Church is a big part of our lives. It always has been,” added Monica.