By Kelly Lafferty Kokomo Tribune
---- — Carolyn Beeler caught Joe Price’s eye when they first met at a mutual friend’s home in North Manchester in 1953.
Seventeen-year-old Carolyn from Sydney, and 18-year-old Joe from Laketon, did a little chit-chatting that day, but Joe waited until the weekend to ask her out. They both thought the other was quiet, but they enjoyed each other’s company.
“I thought she was a very attractive lady,” he said. “I just liked the way she looked.”
They went on their first of many dates to see a movie in Fort Wayne, then to Frisch’s Big Boy afterward. Joe and Carolyn dated for a year. They attended square dances together and visited with each other’s parents a lot.
“We just kept dating and that’s what it felt like it was going to be for us, was each other,” Carolyn said. “We were together so much I thought we were going to get married.”
In fact it was inside a movie theater that Joe hinted at a possible proposal.
“He said, ‘After the movie, I got something to give you.’ I wanted the movie to hurry up and be over,” Carolyn laughed.
In the car on the way to her home, he gave her a ring and she accepted.
They knew that it was likely Joe would get drafted, so they waited for his notice to come in before they set a wedding date. The notice never came and they got tired of waiting, so they planned to wed on June 20, 1954.
Unfortunately, they didn’t wait long enough.
“I went to the post office, saw that thing from the government and knew exactly what it was,” Joe said.
They had to change almost all their wedding plans, including the date. It was a little stressful for the couple since they had to quickly plan a wedding, but two weeks after Joe got his draft notice, he and Carolyn were married on May 30, 1954, at Brethren Church in North Manchester when Joe was 19 and Carolyn was 18. They went on a short honeymoon to South Bend days before Joe had to leave for basic training.
“We got married, went on our honeymoon, came back, and he left,” Carolyn said.
The night before Joe left, his family had a tearful send-off dinner for him.
“That was the saddest dinner I ever attended,” Joe said. “You’d think I was leaving forever.”
Joe had never been away from home before, and he was suddenly going to be away for a long period of time. The morning he got on the bus to leave, everyone was crying.
“It was sad,” Carolyn said. “We really didn’t know what to expect. We knew it was coming, but it was still a shock.”
Joe went to basic training for four months, two at Fort Chaffey in Arkansas, and then two at Fort Knox in Kentucky. He knew he would be stationed in Germany, but wasn’t sure if Carolyn would be allowed to be with him. She made it her mission to be given approval to go.
“I told my mom, ‘If they let me go, I’m going over there,’” Carolyn said. “Mom said, ‘No they won’t let you,’ And I said, ‘Yes they will.’”
They granted permission, and Carolyn was excited. She got there not long after he did and they stayed at a hotel near Frankfurt for $5 per night which included a hardboiled egg and a hard roll for breakfast. Once the Army found out they were staying in a hotel, a sergeant invited them to stay at his Army-furnished apartment. They lived there for a little while before they moved into an attic apartment with a twin-size bed and ladder to climb to get inside.
“We didn’t care though, we were together,” Carolyn said.
The Prices spent 19 months together in Germany, and it was an exciting time, even though it was also a bit of an adjustment. They were there nine years after the war ended, and there were still big piles of rubble where buildings got blown up.
“They didn’t like us over there,” Carolyn said of the Germans. “They’d shout, ‘America, go home,’ and stare at you. We just ignored them.”
When Joe was gone for a while during the day, Carolyn would walk through stores downtown when she got bored. They traveled a lot together when they had the opportunities.
After a year and a half there, they took an eight-day journey on a ship back to the United States. Joe and Carolyn came to Kokomo in 1957 when he got a job at Chrysler. He retired from there in 1989, and Carolyn worked at Delco for more than 20 years.
Money was hard at first. After they paid their bills, they only had $5 left over from their paycheck.
“Looking back, you remember those things and sometimes you wonder how you got through it,” Joe said. “I think we do pretty well.”
They’ve raised two daughters and enjoy spending time with them and now their four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
They went back to where they were stationed in Germany 40 years later when their granddaughter was stationed there in the Air Force. They visited with their landlord from their small attic apartment, but the area had changed a lot.
Now that they’re older, the Prices say their relationship with each other is a lot closer, but they’ve seen their share of bumps in the road.
“It’s like going up and down a hill,” Carolyn said. “That’s just the way of life.”
They said that talking a lot has made their marriage a successful one. They sit down and talk about anything and everything.
“We don’t keep things to ourselves,” Carolyn said. “We’ve always been that way. If there’s something bothering one or the other, we bring it out. I feel better when we talk about the problem.”
Joe and Carolyn have been married for 59 years and agree that they’re thankful for their happiness and good health over all those years.
“You sit here and think, sixty years, man, I must be 80 years old,” Joe laughed. “You see people walking with walkers and here we are still going at it.”