Local couple celebrates 70 years

Published 6:10 pm Friday, December 28, 2018

VALLEY — Ann and Ed Davis celebrated their anniversary a bit early this year, and it’s a good thing they did. Christmas Eve 2018 marked 70 years the couple has been married, and they celebrated with a big family reunion at the beach on Thanksgiving weekend. It was a wonderful get together at Gulf Shores with 25 family members present. It would not have been the same on Dec. 24 because Mr. Davis was in the hospital with pneumonia. He’s well and back home now, but at the time it was cause for concern, especially for someone who’s 92.

Ed Davis still counts his lucky stars he married the young woman he met in Montevallo, when he’d just got back home to Alabama after serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II.

“I’m so happy to have been with her all these years,” he said. “I was in the hospital for eight days and was released Thursday. She came to see me twice every day I was there.”

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“We went through a bad time,” Ann said, “but he’s much better now, and I’m glad he’s back home.”

Ann adds that she thinks there’s something to the “Greatest Generation” description made famous by Tom Brokaw. “Most couples of our generation stayed together for life,” she said. “They were committed and worked to stay that way.”

The Davises have four children, Deborah, who lives at home; Kay and husband Tom Perryman, who live on Lake Martin; Ed III, who lives in Montebello, and Mike, who lives in Cusseta.

Mike described the Thanksgiving weekend as a time to dream big.

“We were celebrating our mom and dad’s wedding anniversary,” he said. “25 family members were there. They ranged in age from 15 months to 93 years. It was my mama’s dream to be together at the beach. We dared to dream big, and we had an awesome time.”

The highlight of the long weekend getaway was a 70th anniversary dinner. Everyone was asked to wear gray or silver.

Portraits were taken on the beach earlier in the day. Saturday was Iron Bowl day.

Most of the Davises were in orange and blue, the colors of Ed’s alma mater, then known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute, or API, when he graduated as an electoral engineering major in 1951. He hopes to attend his 70th class reunion on the Plains in 2021.

As can be expected when there are lots of people together who have Alabama ties, some of the family members were dressed in crimson and white.

The 70th anniversary cake was prepared by Edgar’s Bakery, a well-known Birmingham caterer.

“It was topped with a Lenox vintage bride and groom with platinum trim,” Ann said. “The one we had on our wedding cake was very much like it, and we still have it.”

Ed and Ann met in in the summer of 1946.

“He was a good friend of a young man who was dating one of my good friends,” she said. “She liked the idea of us double dating.”

Ed was born in the small town of Hamburg and moved to Montevallo with his family as a young boy. Ann is a native of the Red Level community in Covington County. On Christmas Eve 1948, they were married in a small Methodist Church in Red Level.

Christmas Eve isn’t the most ideal time for a wedding, but Ann was teaching school at the time and her principal didn’t like for his teachers to take time off when school was in session. They got married during the holiday break. Ed remembers decorating the altar in the church with some vines he’d found in the woods. It made it pretty, but there was a price to pay. When he knelt in prayer during the ceremony, he got a sharp briar in his knee. It was painful, but he toughed it out and didn’t let it show.

Following graduation from Auburn, Ed got a job with Alabama Power and worked for the Southern Company affiliate for 38 years.

“Alabama Power is a good company to work for,” he said. “They treat their employees well.”

The Davises were in Enterprise for ten years before coming to the Valley in 1961.

“We loved it there,” Ann said, “but there’s no place like the Valley. It’s been a great home for us and still is.”

Ed was named manager of a new Alabama Power office in Fairfax. At the time, West Point Manufacturing Company controlled electrical distribution in the Chattahoochee Valley mill villages. The company had decided to get out of the power business and sold their system to Alabama Power. It was an eventful period for Ed.

“We had to change out a lot of lines,” he said. “Alabama Power sent teams here to do that.”

“They were building the new bridges on Highway 29 over I-85 when we came here,” Ed said. “I remember showing Ann West Point, Lanett, Shawmut, Langdale, Fairfax and River View.”

“I kept looking for downtown,” Ann said.

She might have been disappointed at the time, but it turned out great in the long run.

“We are five minutes away from the library, from our church and the hospital,” she said. “Our daughter Kay has asked us to move to Lake Martin and be close to them, but we are so close to everything here.”

“The Valley is a great location,” Ed added. “You’re close to Auburn, LaGrange and Columbus and not that far away from Atlanta and Birmingham.”

“Shawmut Airport was new when we came here,” he said. “Fred Robison had several planes there, and he once let our son, Mike, pilot a plane. That was a big thrill for him when he was behind the wheel of a plane.”

The Davises built a new home in Todd Addition not long after they moved here. The road in front of the house wasn’t paved at the time, and there was no running water. Other homes were built in the area; the water came and the streets were paved. “We’ve had a lot of happiness here,” said Ann. “Our children loved the Christmas traditions here. There was a toy shop in front of Langdale school and a large lighted tree where McDonald’s is today. Our son Ed III thought it must have been the biggest tree in the world. They loved the Nativity, the Madonna and Christ Child and especially the Merry Go Round. The Valley is a good place to raise a family.”

“We know a lot of people our age, but not many couples,” said Ann. “Some of my friends kid me about putting up with Ed so long. I tell them I’m just glad to have a husband, especially one as good as Ed.”

Ann has heard her share of jokes about older people. She likes the one about the 97-year-old man whose wife had died many years before.

“He would tell his friends,” she said, “that the one thing he worried about the most was what his wife was thinking up in heaven. ‘When she wonders why I haven’t joined her I hope she doesn’t think I’ve gone to the other place.”

When asked if there’s a secret to long life, Ed said that he liked a statement Cliff Glover liked to say a lot: “Just don’t die.”

Glover passed away a few years ago at age 104.