By Kelly Lafferty
---- — Jack Meador never believed in fortune tellers.
So when one offered to read his palm as he was walking down the street one evening in Jacksonville, Florida, where he was stationed in the Navy, he figured he’d go along with it. But he wasn’t convinced her fortune for him was very accurate.
“The three things she told me were, ‘You’re gonna be married, you’re gonna have three children, and you’re gonna be a boss,” Jack said. “I thought that was crazy.”
He didn’t think much of it after that day, until years later, when to his surprise, all three of those things came true.
Jack, who never thought he’d get married, had actually met his future wife already, several years before in 1948. They both worked at Stellite in the grinding department. Jack polished turbine blades for jet engines and a young woman named Mary Robey worked in the department office.
Mary definitely caught 18-year-old Jack’s eye at that time, but he was too shy to make a move.
“The thing I noticed about her was how she dressed,” he said. “She was a neat, nice-looking young lady.”
Nineteen-year-old Mary didn’t really pay attention to Jack.
“I was just another dumb guy,” Jack laughed.
After 14 months, Jack joined the Navy and was gone for four years. During his free time at training, he wrote letters.
One of his letters made its way to Mary, and when she got home from work and saw a letter from Jack waiting for her, she was a little confused. Mary never remembered telling him where she lived.
“I was flabbergasted because I was like, ‘How did he get my address?’” she said. “He didn’t even talk to me at work.”
Mary got five letters from Jack over the four years he was gone, and she always wrote back, but she also wrote back to all the other letters she got from guys who had joined the military, too.
When Jack was discharged in 1953, he came back to work at Stellite and he worked afternoons, while Mary worked days. He still had a crush on Mary and was working up the courage to ask her out, but she beat him to it.
“I had always kinda liked her, but I just never got around to doing what I should’ve done,” Jack said.
Mary took the initiative and asked Jack on a date first. She called him at work and asked if she could pick him up when his shift was over. He said yes.
“I figured that would be the only way I could get a date,” Mary laughed. “Sometimes, women have to take over.”
“She’s been taking over for 60 years,” Jack laughed.
Once Mary picked him up after work, it was like Jack’s shyness never existed. He was very talkative on their first date, which was to a high school all-star basketball game at Butler. He was even more impressed with Mary the more he got to know her.
“She was just a good-looking lady to me,” he said of Mary. “She even had a new car to drive.”
From then on, they kept going together. They’d play cards with friends, go to movies and attend ball games together.
Jack was unlike any other guy Mary had dated. She had been engaged twice before but broke it off because she didn’t want to be with them.
“I went out with so many and most of them were horse’s butts,” Mary said. “But Jack wasn’t that way. He treated me like I really wanted to be treated.”
“She probably thought I was her last chance,” Jack joked.
The two dated for about a year, and they both knew they wanted to get married. The two were wed at Reverend Newsome’s home, who was the minister of First Baptist in Kokomo at the time, on April 30, 1954, when Jack was 24 and Mary was 25. They went to Florida for their honeymoon.
When they came back, they got a little house on Jay Street that they lived in for about seven years.
“That was about the stupidest thing we could’ve ever done,” Jack said. “It was not a nice house at all.”
The newlyweds worked hard to make it into a home and remodeled most of it before they moved into their current house over 50 years ago.
Jack worked his way up to a boss position, where he was a group leader at Stellite. Mary, who was still working days there, was able to change her shift to afternoons, that way she and Jack were able to go to work together and come home together. Newlywed life was nice for them.
“When you’re in your twenties, you’re a little smarter than when you’re younger,” Mary said. “We were a little more settled down.”
Mary left Stellite after their first baby was born, and Jack left in 1966 when he went to work at Delco for 25 years.
During their married life, the Meadors have had a lot of fun. They’ve raised their three children, and over the years, Jack and Mary have loved taking ballroom dancing lessons together. They’ve always enjoyed each other’s company and say their relationship has flourished because of it.
Jack and Mary have just celebrated 60 years of marriage, and they think it’s a miracle not only that they’ve been married for six decades, but that they have lived so long and been so healthy.
“We’ve only had about a dozen fights,” Jack laughed. “We get along pretty well. We disagree, naturally, like anyone else, but we get over it and go on. Since we’re two different people, there are things that happen at times that we just have to tolerate, so we just tolerate it.”
They’ve learned to get along, and both think it’s important to be good to each other and peacefully work out any problems.
“If we get mad at each other, we just shut our mouth and go on,” Mary said. “Sooner or later someone apologizes. You might storm out the door, but you always come back.”