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After 70 years, love is still sweet for Idaho couple

The Rameys married when Marcella was a tender 15-year-old

BOISE — When 19-year-old Ron Ramey fell in love with 14-year-old Marcella, doubters said it would never last — they were just too far apart in age.

But the young couple didn't listen, spiriting from Nezperce to New Meadows to get married in secret. On Saturday, the Rameys celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

He's 90 and she's 85, both in good health. And the romance that began so long ago is far from losing its luster.

"I still love him so much," Marcella said. "When we go to bed at night, we always hold hands. 'I love you' are the last words we say to each other."

Their wedding anniversary has fallen on Thanksgiving seven times since their wedding in 1935.

"We're thankful to have had all these years together," Ron said. "We had no idea that it would last this long."

When they started dating, he worked at a meat market for a dollar a day, and she worked at a drug store for 10 cents an hour. One of Ron's duties was delivering ice, and Marcella would leave the icebox open — letting the precious ice melt — so he'd have to come by more often.

He proposed in a letter, and Marcella's response was simple.

"I wrote back and said, 'Yes, yes, yes,' " she said. "We had a friend drive us to New Meadows to get married so it wouldn't be in the paper in Nezperce. We didn't want anyone to know because I was so young. My folks were really put out when they found out, but in those days, people wanted kids to leave home because money was so scarce. It was one less mouth to feed."

The newlyweds moved in with Ron's father and stepmother in Grangeville, where Ron worked as a dishwasher and part-time cook. Eventually, Marcella's aunt offered her a job at a bakery in Emmett, and the couple moved.

By then, they had their first child, a boy they named Marsh. The place where they lived in Emmett was so small that the kitchen, bed and shower were all in one room.

"I worked nights and slept days," Ron said. "When the baby cried, I could reach out and rock him without getting out of bed."

"He made $15 a week," Marcella added. "We never went anywhere because we couldn't afford it. The grocer let us charge $5 a week, and he'd throw in a box of candy. That was the only treat we ever got.

Water was drawn from a pump, which often froze in the winter. The weather would turn so cold that the nails on the inside of the house would be covered in frost, and without money for blankets the Rameys stuffed newspaper in the bed for insulation.

After three years in Emmett, they moved to Boise, with Marcella little more than a teenager.

"Mom made me clothes from hand-me-downs that had come from my aunt's," their daughter, Kay Gaskell, said. "And those were clothes they'd received from their cousins."

Though Gaskell often had to put cardboard in the soles of her shoes because of holes, she never felt poor, she said.

"We had the love of our parents, and they made a beautiful, loving home for us," she said.

For all but those first 14 years of her life, Marcella said, they've never been apart. Now they live in Boise, close to their children.

"People don't say 'Ron and Marcella.' They say 'Ron-Marcella' because we're always together," she said. "Sometimes I worry about which one of us will go first. I tell him he's not going anywhere without me."