yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

Couple celebrates 72 years together

from the collection of Sheila Adkisson Cox

Parsons News Leader, 1987, by Bobbie Keeton

When Felt Adkisson and Ella Harigan said "I do" on July 4th, they really meant it. That was on July 4, 1915-72 years ago!

Mr. Felt, 93, and his lovely wife Ella, 91, were married by Magistrate Renzo Tucker at his home in the Grays Chapel Community while the couple sat in their wagon.  "We didn't even bother getting out of the wagon," Mr. Felt said.  The couple met when the Adkisson family moved to Center Point to work in timber.  "We moved on January 1st-New Year's Day," Mr. Felt remembers.  "We had to wait until the ground froze so we could get the wagons over the roads."

The girl next door-Mrs. Ella-didn't appeal to Mr. Felt at first; it was not "love at first sight".  But it wasn't long before  they knew they were right for each other.  "We left Center Point to come to Decatur County to marry--we weren't 'running away' or eloping-we just left and came to Uncle Joe Patterson's house, "Mr. Felt relates.  "it was raining on Saturday morning when we got up. We didn't have our license yet, so we had to go to Decaturville on a mule to get the license.  It cost $3.00-more that a day's work was worth back then."

The sun was shining on their wedding day on Sunday, and seems to have been shining on the happy couple quite a bit during the 72 years of marriage.  When asked about their honeymoon, Mr. Felt laughed.  "I went to the log woods the next morning.  Made $2.50 a day working my mules."

Mr. Felt and Mrs. Ella have had a lot of 'ups and down' Both they both agree they have enjoyed every minute of it.  Their life together has been full and happy-they've shared hard times but good times, work, love, laughter and even some tears.  They worked the fields as farmers, the woods as timber workers, and Mr. Felt was even a blacksmith.  They are the very roots of the Bath Springs community-having resided there these many years.  They have known and shared sorrow as only a parent who loses a child can know.  Two of their five children are deceased.

Their surviving children are Vernon and Albert Adkisson of Bath Springs, and Willie Adkisson of Milan. They have 14 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.  The changes Mr. Felt and Mrs. Ella have witnessed could fill the pages of a book.  Mr. Felt wishes he had kept a record of his life-it might make a best seller, certainly an interesting story.

"Some of these young people don't even believe the stories I tell," Mr. Felt states, "but they're true."
He remembers working all day (from sun-up to sun-down-not just 7 or 8 hours like they do now) for 25 cents a day.  "When I got a raise to 35 cents, I thought I was really into the money!"

Mr. Felt also remembers picking blackberries for 10 cents per gallon, the first mail route in Bath Springs, 2 cent stamps, the first car he saw in about 1913, and his first Coke.  "It was about 1910 or 11 when John Brasher got in some Coca Cola in his store.  They were fastened with wire to seal them, and when you pulled that wire you had to drink real fast-the fizz was really strong back then, and they'd fizz out of the bottle in a hurry".

Mr. Felt and Mrs. Ella don't believe people-especially families-are as close as they were in the early years.  "Times are just too fast and there's not the love there use to be," Mr. Felt says.  "Back then there was no where to go-you didn't hear about things unless it happened in the settlement.  There weren't hardly and newspapers, and no radio and tv".  What advice would this couple-experienced as they are in marriage-give to couples about to 'tie the knot'.  "First of all-know that you love one another.  Treat one another right.  Work to make a go of it."  And Mr. Felt adds:  "Never argue or quarrel."  How does one do that?

"Well, if you can't agree," Mr. Felt explains, "and she starts to quarrel, just start whistling and walk off.  That'll get a woman every time!"  Mr. Felt's philosophy is that if you allow quarrels to start, they'll 'grown on you'-so just don't let them get started!

He must have the right combination-it's worked for 72 years!

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