No ‘magic formula’ to long marriage

Published 12:40 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2016

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Every Friday, Curtis and Ivey Mae Holland check out the lunch special at George’s Steak House in Suffolk.

They’ve had lunch at George’s every Friday for more than 20 years.

Friday’s special is fish, said Curtis.

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The Windsor couple will enjoy a break in the routine this week, as they celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary with a lunch with family Saturday at Wharf Hill Brewery in Smithfield. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Curtis, 90, and Ivey Mae, 88, were married in a splashy wedding with all the trimmings on July 19, 1946 at Woodland United Methodist Church.

Curtis was from Holland. Ivey Mae Griffin was from Windsor.

“We both skipped college in favor of getting married,” said Curtis, who went on to run the Curtis Holland Insurance Agency in Suffolk.

They met at the former Chadwick movie theater in Suffolk in 1943.

Ivey Mae was there with her father, recently “jilted” by a boy, she said.

Curtis caught her eye because, “he was a male and his name was Curtis,” she said, explaining that he shared the same first name as the boy who had dumped her.

Curtis showed interest, so I jumped on it, said Ivey.

Curtis was attracted to Ivey because he was single and had been for quite a while.

“I was without female companionship and she was available,” Curtis said.

They began dating and then Curtis was drafted into the military and volunteered to be in the Navy Reserve. He was sent to North Africa. The couple wrote to each other, with Curtis’ letters being sent via V-mail and Ivey Mae’s still “snail mail,” Curtis said.

V-mail was a single sheet of paper that was converted to microfilm to save weight and space on ships transporting war correspondence. It was a way to handle the large volume of mail and maintain troop morale.

As Curtis served in the Navy, Ivey Mae concentrated on finishing high school. She was in the first class to complete 12 grades at Windsor High School.

The war ended, Curtis came home and they decided to get married.

Ivey Mae said her father was leery of her marrying a man from Holland, a town that used to be in Nansemond County and now in the city of Suffolk.

They forged ahead anyway.

Curtis said that of 70 years of marriage, 65 of those have been happy. As for the other five, well, there’s always a margin of error, he said.

The couple had three daughters and raised a fourth who had become orphaned as a child.

The Hollands were active in their church and community and credit that activity as one secret of a long and happy marriage. Curtis also advises couples to marry young if they want a long life together, be stubborn and to find a spouse who doesn’t advocate for a lot of change.

Ivey said patience and the ability to forget and adjust are important to her.

Yet, “I don’t believe there’s any magic formula,” said Curtis.

“Sometimes you want to knock each other in the head, but you adjust,” said Ivey.

There was a bit of tug of war between which denomination — Baptist or Methodist — to follow over the course of the couple’s 70 years together. Curtis was the Baptist and Ivey was the Methodist.

Ivey summed it up in her seemingly matter-of-fact approach to life.

“The only difference is the amount of water they use.”  {/mprestriction}