Clarence and Elsie Carter recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Mission couple celebrates 70 years of marriage

Clarence and Elsie Carter say the secret to a long marriage is simply love.

Clarence and Elsie Carter recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

They reminisced about events that had happened since their wedding on April 21, 1945, and agreed the years have passed too quickly.

Clarence remembers the first time he met his wife Elsie in 1932. He was just 12 years old, and she was eight.

Clarence’s grandfather ran the Silverdale post office at the time and he often helped the older gentleman bring the letters and parcels to the train station where they would be picked up by a clerk on the train and brought to Vancouver.

Elsie lived on a farm near the river in Mt. Lehmann with her aunt. The two of them had to row their boat across the Fraser River in order to send their mail.

It was a warm spring day when Elsie held up an envelope and asked Clarence to put her letter on the train.

He didn’t know her name, and he didn’t ask for it. He just knew she was the politest little girl he had ever met, and he couldn’t help notice how “cute” she looked in the nice dress she was wearing.

For almost a year, Clarence never stopped thinking about the girl by the river and was surprised when he met her again at school.

The young man attended Silverdale elementary school, which at the time was located at the end of Manzer Street, about two miles away from the river.

Elsie had been held back from school until her sister, who was three years younger, was old enough to start and they could make the journey together.

Clarence recognized Elsie immediately.

He knew Elsie and her sister had to row across the river, then walk to school and he soon tried to help them out by meeting them by the river with his bike. He would often ride with one sister on the handlebars to school, then go back and pick up the other one.

“I was pretty big then,” recalled Clarence. “I had a bike and a paper route.”

The two became good friends and Clarence included Elsie in family events, like seeing movies in Vancouver or picnics at Stanley Park.

Clarence joined the air force after he finished high school in 1940, and Elsie, who was just 15 at the time, suggested they get married.

Clarence didn’t know what would happen during the war and declined because he didn’t want Elsie to be a widow.

“I said as soon as I get back, and if you haven’t changed your mind, we’ll get married.”

But before he left, he gave Elsie a ring from a Cracker Jack box.

“It didn’t fit me,” Clarence laughed. “But it fit her.”

Elsie wore the ring until it turned green, and she wrote Clarence every day. He promised to replace the ring as soon as he could.

Clarence patrolled the Canadian borders on the east coast and was eventually assigned to Abbotsford. And as soon as he landed, Elsie proposed marriage again. This time, Clarence agreed.

The young couple lived in Trethewey House in Abbotsford for a short time before moving back to Silverdale where they owned and operated a gas service station. Clarence tried logging and worked odd jobs before he began a 35-year career with the post office.

Clarence and Elsie moved to a house on Grand Street near the Leisure Centre in 1967. They raised two children and now enjoy spending time with their grandchildren.

Elsie is now hard of hearing and suffers from severe arthritis, but Clarence is happy to take care of her.

The secret to a 70-year marriage is simply love, said Clarence.

“You have to have faith, hope, and love. Lots of love. It’s the biggest thing,” said Clarence. “With it, you can stay married forever, as long as you have each other.”