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Loren and Pearl McFarland: True to wedding vows for 70 years

She calls him "Sweetheart." He planted a rose garden in the shape of a heart for her. They really meant it when they promised to love and honor one another as they exchanged their wedding vows 70 years ago. And today in Drayton, N.D., Pearl and L...

She calls him "Sweetheart."

He planted a rose garden in the shape of a heart for her.

They really meant it when they promised to love and honor one another as they exchanged their wedding vows 70 years ago.

And today in Drayton, N.D., Pearl and Loren McFarland, who were married on May 4, 1938, are celebrating with friends and family in United Methodist Church.

Many couples make it to their golden wedding day. Some go beyond. But very few reach a 70th anniversary.

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Today, the McFarlands look ahead as they treasure the years they have had. They are contemplating a trip to Hawaii later this year with a granddaughter.

They met during the days of the Great Depression in the 1930s in Drayton. Loren had come from Bellingham, Wash., and was visiting his cousin, Mary Bates, who was Pearl's friend. With a group of friends, they would go dancing. Pearl remembers a pavilion near the Red River and a band called Buck and the Buccaneers.

She wore a two-piece, white dress with puffed sleeves when they were married on the family farm her parents, Violet and Elmer Anderson, owned. Their attendants were Pearl's sister, Eileen, and Bernard Lindgren.

The McFarlands had a Model A coupe when they were married. She was 17 and he was 21 when they started down the long road of life together by working and buying farmland near her parents' farm. During World War II, they lived for three years in Seattle, where Loren was working for Boeing Airplane Co.

They came back to Drayton before their daughter, Joyce, was born. And they worked side by side on the farm they bought and lived on for 40 years. They also had a son, Dennis, who died in 1996. His wife, Lorna, still lives on their farm, but rents out the land. And the McFarlands have seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Pearl is a tall, slender woman who moves quickly and easily around their spacious home in Drayton. Loren is tall, slender and rather quiet. He is slower now, but has recovered well from a stroke in recent years. They also have a home in Mesa, Ariz., where they live seven months out of the year.

In spring, they come back to their house in Drayton, where Loren built a rose garden in the shape of a heart for Pearl.

A bed of roses

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The McFarlands grow roses wherever they live. They have a wide acquaintance of friends they have met over the years. This month, she will be entertaining the Sunnyside Homemaker Club she has belonged to throughout her married life on the farm and after moving into town. In Arizona, they go each year to the Pembina County breakfast to visit with people. Pearl has been state president of the Rebekah Lodge. Loren was in the Odd Fellows lodge until the group was discontinued. Pearl taught Sunday school, and Loren served on the United Methodist church board. He was also on the Farmer's Union board. They worked with the 4-H Clubs program.

They look back on their travels -- visits back to Bellingham, Wash., cruises to Alaska and Hawaii.

They celebrated all of their milestone wedding anniversaries, except for the 60th in 1998. That was two years after their son died of a brain tumor. And they didn't feel like celebrating.

It was, Pearl says, one of the saddest times of their lives. That, and the deaths of their parents. Otherwise, life has been good, and they have worked together on the farm and in their homes after retiring. She always calls him "Sweetheart." He used to give her a kiss before he would walk down to the mailbox on the farm.

If they ever had a harsh word, their daughter Joyce McFarland of Sioux Falls, S.D., says she never heard it. She remembers how her parents used to hold card parties for their friends or play two-handed cribbage. At times, the McFarland house would be the place for card parties with three or four tables of whist.

Family and friends say the McFarlands are like 'two peas in a pod'' or that they seemed "joined at the hip." They have worked the farmland together, papered walls together, hung Christmas lights together. They live in the summertime the house he helped build for her parents years ago on Main Street in Drayton. And there they are surrounded by precious mementoes of years gone by.

This is the day for a unique celebration for a couple who have lived long and well.

Reach Hagerty at (701) 772-1055 or send e-mail to mhagerty@gra.midco.net .

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