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76 years later, Valentine's Day still special for Sugarcreek couple

| Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, 12:51 a.m.
Flora and Paul Mellish.
Paul and Flora Mellish at their wedding in 1938. The couple was married June 9 of that year in East Brady.

Flora Mellish, 92, plans to celebrate Valentine's Day by baking heart-shaped cookies for her 99-year-old husband, Paul.

The Sugarcreek couple, who have been married for more than 75 years, didn't celebrate Valentine's Day in any big way early on in their marriage. Times were different then.

“We got married during the Depression,” Flora said. “It was nothing compared to now, where people are used to getting everything right away. We had to do without until we could afford it.”

But though times were tough, the couple managed to raise three children — Barbara, Paula and David. Flora stayed home to raise the children while Paul earned a dollar a day working in the coal mines.

“I never heard them have an argument, ever,” Barbara said of her parents.

They were married on June 9, 1938, in St. Patrick's Church in East Brady. After the ceremony, family and friends enjoyed a home-cooked chicken dinner at Flora's parents' farm.

The weather was nice, which was a good thing since neighbors and friends walked for miles to join in the celebration of a rural custom known as serenading the newlyweds.

“Everyone gathered on the porch to stomp and shout and have a good time,” Flora said.

After passing out candy to everyone, the couple was taken for a drive in a pickup along dirt roads, accompanied by someone beating on an old drum.

Paul and Flora, who were both raised in Sugarcreek, live in the same house where they started out as newlyweds.

They have been charter members of the Sugarcreek Fire Department for the past 64 years, and their family includes nine grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

“We've always been here, and we're the oldest people around,” Flora said, adding that people often consult them on matters related to local history.

For newlyweds or those planning on getting hitched, Flora offered some advice: “Life isn't always easy — but you have to love one another and work together.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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