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By Echo Menges, NEMOnews Media Group
The Gordy’s have been married for 70 years, and their love story continues.
Loyd Gordy was born in Scotland County, just three miles north of Grainger, in the summer of 1932 to Tom and Mable (Kinney) Gordy, on the Oakdale Farm. Loyd was one of ten children, born in the middle, between his five brothers and four sisters.
Ethel Walker was born at Honey Creek in rural Clark County, about four miles from Kahoka in the summer of 1933 to Charles and Goldie (Billington) Walker. She was the second child of seven with four sisters and two brothers.
At first meeting, the two didn’t know they’d share a lifetime together.
“My dad raised sheep, and her dad sheered sheep, and we went over to her place,” Loyd Gordy said about seeing Ethel for the first time. “I saw her peaking around the barn. I was in fifth grade.”
“We were in the same grade,” said Ethel Gordy about that first encounter.
The two didn’t get to spend much time together until both started attending the same school.
“When we were eighth-graders. They moved across the hill, and we went to school from then on,” said Ethel.
It was all the way back in the eighth grade that Loyd set his sights on Ethel.
“He gave me his only nickel to walk in a cakewalk, and I didn’t win anything,” laughed Ethel. “Evidently, when he saw me – that was it.”
The two were in the same grade and attended school together in Luray until their senior year.
“I ended up going to Kahoka and he ended up going to Gorin,” said Ethel.
When they separated schools, they decided to start dating becoming high school sweethearts.
“She finally gave me a chance,” said Loyd.
“His brother went with my sister,” said Ethel. “They were older than us. That was our first date. We went with them.”
“I didn’t have a car,” said Loyd.
After more than 70 years of marriage, the two didn’t remember a lot about that first date.
“No doubt we went to the Kozy theater in Knaoka. It was right beside where The Media is now. That vacant parking lot,” said Loyd.
They saw a movie starring an actor on a palomino horse and remember the song, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”.
They separated briefly after high school. He went to Colorado to work the wheat fields with his family. She went to the teachers college in Kirksville.
When Loyd came home in 1951, he knew what he wanted.
“When I came back, I pursued the good stuff,” said Loyd.
“He spent a whole weeks wages on a necklace when he got back,” said Ethel. “I still have it.”
“I pitched barley for the money to buy it,” said Loyd.
The couple got engaged near the end of 1951.
“We were on our way to a Christmas program, and got the car stuck in a snowdrift,” said Loyd. “We couldn’t get out of the car. We had to climb out the window. That’s when I proposed.”
“With his head sticking out of the window,” said Ethel.
“She was teaching and I was taking her back to the schoolhouse for the program,” said Loyd. “It was a ‘49 Chevrolet. Belonged to my brother-in-law. That same night I paid $14.50 for a pie she made.”
The couple married on January 19, 1952. They had a family wedding at her parents’ house north of Luray. Reverend Hubbard officiated the ceremony. His brother Haroldand, and her sister Dorothy, also a couple, stood up for them.
“It was out in the country,” said Ethel. “We stood in front of an old mirror and I still have the mirror.”
In those days, the couple couldn’t afford a honeymoon.
We stayed at my sister’s,” said Ethel. “They went somewhere and we stayed there. I guess that was the honeymoon.”
“We took our honeymoon on our 50th anniversary. We went east and hit 15 states. Just went randomly and went anywhere we wanted to go,” said Loyd.
Within the first year of being married, Loyd was drafted into the service.
“It was November of ‘52,” said Loyd.
“They called him to service,” said Ethel.
“I went to the Korean war,” said Loyd.
“He was drafted to serve in the Army,” said Ethel.
“I served from ‘52 to ‘54. That was active, and then you had six years reserve after that,” said Loyd.
“Back then, you didn’t have any say. They told you, you were going to go – you went,” said Ethel.
“I served in Korea. Started out as a mechanic, and shifted to artillery, and the tank division. Then, I got a job driving for the Chaplin. I drove for him for the rest of the service. He was a dandy,” said Loyd.
“He didn’t get to come back for two years,” said Ethel. “He came back May or June of ‘54. He didn’t tell me he was coming. I taught school in a country school when he was gone.”
“I stayed in Colorado Springs for a while when he finished his service time,” said Ethel. “It was about six months of living out there for the rest of the time he was in the service, and then came home.”
“She wanted to come home. We did,” said Loyd.
For a few years, they moved around Northeast Missouri. They lived a spell in Edina, before moving back to Grainger.
“We bought a house and seven acres for $1500,” said Loyd.
“That was a lot of money back then. Now it’s nothing,” said Ethel.
The couple lived in Grainger for 42 years. They had four children.
“I stayed home with the kids. I was gonna raise my own,” said Ethel.
“She did teach for six years before taking on home life as a mom,” said Loyd.
“I went to work for the railroad after I left the farm. I went to work for them in 1960 and I worked for them until ‘88. I busted my back and they wouldn’t let me come back,” said Loyd.
Today, they have 14 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. And, they continue to be close as ever. Loyd still has an eye for Ethel – and has ever since the eighth grade.
“It’s we, not I or me,” said Loyd.
“I go along with that,” said Ethel.