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In Annie Ruth Price Skinner’s long life, one of the most memorable moments was written in the sky.
“I was about 15 years old when they bombed Pearl Harbor,” Skinner said. “We were out in the yard. I was up at my friend’s house.”
It was Dec. 7, 1941.
“We heard a plane, and we looked up and it was writing that the United States had declared war on Japan. I saw it in the sky,” Skinner said. “I was just 15. I really didn’t know a lot about war. I just thought it was bad news.”
World War II had a large impact on the her life. Her boyfriend, James Atlas Skinner, was drafted to fight.
The couple marked their 75th wedding anniversary Sunday.
Annie Ruth, 93, and James, 95, caught a train and rode to Florence, South Carolina, to be married on Sept. 8, 1944.
She was 18 and he was 20.
Three weeks later, James left home to serve in the Army in the South Pacific.
“We knew he was going to have to go. We just didn’t know it was going to be that quick,” Skinner said. “He was in the infantry. He fought on Okinawa. I wrote him a letter every day.”
Annie Ruth Skinner speaks on behalf of the couple now because husband has Alzheimer’s disease.
That is a little bit difficult for Annie Ruth, who “doesn’t like to talk at all.”
She said when James returned from the war, he farmed for five years growing tobacco, corn and soybeans.
“Back then it was hard work. Farming was hard. Now they’ve got all the equipment they need to work with, and he worked with mules and plows,” Annie Ruth said.
After one of those hard days, James decided he had to take another course in life.
“They had been putting in tobacco that day. It was hot, sweaty, nasty and sticky,” Annie Ruth remembered. “He came in and said, ‘There’s bound to be a better way to make a living.’ And so just as soon as he got through with tobacco, he went to go find a job. He couldn’t do it anymore. His sister and I finished up his crop.”
“After Daddy stopped farming, he started working for Chevrolet in Wilson,” said daughter Glenda Skinner Waters. “Eastern Motor Sales was the name of the company then. Then Paul Berry bought it out, and it became Paul Berry Chevrolet. He worked there for 37 years.”
Annie Ruth brought the couple three sons and three daughters.
Now they have three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Jim Skinner, their firstborn son, said a 75-year marriage is a remarkable achievement.
“We just stayed in love,” Annie Ruth said. “We loved one another all these years. I guess that’s the main thing — love, and our six children. We have six fine children. They live real close by, and they come to see us often.”
On pleasant days, the couple will sit out in the carport in a swing and hold hands.
“Sometimes you had to give a little and take a little,” Annie Ruth said. “We had to work together. It was a 50/50 deal. Love one another. Trust one another.”
The couple kept a garden across from their Weaver Road home where they grew green beans, potatoes, corn and butter beans, enough to feed the whole community.
“We got along OK,” Annie Ruth said. “We never went hungry. We had plenty to eat. They had a good childhood.”
The children were enlisted to help gather the vegetables. Glenda picked so many butterbeans as a child that she refuses to eat them even now.
“We used to hate having to go out there and do all that stuff,” Jim Skinner said.
Annie Ruth did plenty of canning and freezing every summer to make the produce from the garden last through the winter months.
“I tried to save what I could,” Annie Ruth said. “We had to feed them.”