- Associated Press - Saturday, June 7, 2014

POTTERVILLE, Pa. (AP) - It all started with a dare.

And now - seven decades, eight children and a lot of work later - you could say it was a good one.

Thanks to that dare, Paul and Milrea Edsell of Potterville were celebrating their 70th - that’s right, 70th - wedding anniversary Wednesday. Not everyone makes that milestone, but thanks to love and day-in, day-out family life, these great-grandparents are claiming that number.

“We made it!” Paul says. “Some days we wondered!”

Paul and Milrea live near the Potterville crossroads, in a house dating to the 1800s. On a recent afternoon, they sat reminiscing in their kitchen - the room where they raised their kids. A vase of purple lilacs sat on the table. A little plaque hanging by the sink read: “God bless our home.”

Both Paul and Milrea grew up on area farms. Born in 1922 to Gilbert and Nora Davis Edsell, Paul lived east of LeRaysville in Pike Township. He had a brother and two sisters, Roy, Eleanor and Edith.

His father hauled milk, five or six cans at a time, in his ‘26 Model T Ford truck from farms to the old Neath creamery. “That was a big load for a Model T!” Paul says.

He started school in LeRaysville. His dad’s cousin Lyle Edsell taught there - “They say that’s how I passed first grade!” Paul claims. He attended only about three months because he was sick so much, with measles, chicken pox, pneumonia and whooping cough.

The family moved and Paul went to Orwell. “That was a good place to go to get a nickname, I know!” he declares. Paul himself became “Cracker.” Orwell didn’t have a full 12 grades so he finished back at LeRaysville.

OK, now Milrea enters the scene. She was born in 1921 just up the road, east of the Northeast schools.

Her parents were Seth and Anna Crawford Chubbuck, and she also had one brother and two sisters, Gert, Velma and Ed. Today Ed and his wife, Norma, live in the house next to the old family home.

Milrea went to the Wells Hollow school, just over the other side of Northeast. “Well, we had to walk from the white house clear down to where Allen Carrington lived,” she recalls. If it snowed, her dad would get them with horses. “Otherwise you walked both ways.”

It was a one-room school, old woodstove and all. “There was a little platform about that high” in the corner, she says, holding her hands a foot or so apart. The teacher sat there sometimes, and students lined a front bench and recited lessons for her. The school had just 15-20 kids all together.

Milrea spent her high school years in LeRaysville, so she could take home ec classes. Both she and Paul graduated in 1940.

Now here comes the dare.

It was the last day of school, senior year. Paul and a friend, Paul Allis, planned to go down to World’s End park. The second Paul dared the first Paul to invite Milrea. Go on, ask her, ask Milrea!

“The reason was I wanted to take his sister (Ruth Allis) and he didn’t want his sister to go,” Paul explains.

So he asked Milrea. And she said yes.

The three and the second Paul’s date, Madeline Manchester, piled into a car and chugged all the way down to Sullivan County for a picnic. Wasn’t much there except a table, trash can - “and trees,” Paul Edsell says. “Lots of trees.”

But he’ll never forget. “That was our first date,” he says. He snapped a photo of Milrea with his little 4-inch camera, a “picture of you with your tongue sticking out!” Today, she laughs. Later, he would keep that photo in his wallet.

That started it all.

Paul worked at the Eclipse plant in Elmira, N.Y., for six months then returned to the family farm. Milrea worked at Remington Rand, then attended Ridley-Lowell business school and got a job for a couple years or so in the record room at Robert Packer Hospital.

Paul and Milrea got engaged on the 50th anniversary of her grandparents Everett and LaFlosie Chubbuck.

They bought the ring at a store in Sayre. “She had to pick it out,” Paul says.

They married in 1944. The newspaper article afterward showed a picture of the smiling couple - he in a suit, she in a dark dress with lots of buttons up the front - and told about it all:

“On Sunday afternoon, June 4, 1944, at Christ’s Congregational Church at Fountain Springs, Pa., before an altar banked with peonies and roses, Milrea Chubbuck and Paul Edsell of Potterville, Pa., were united in a double-ring ceremony. The wedding ceremony was performed by the pastor of the Fountain Springs and Minersville Congregational churches, the Rev Theron A. Zimmerman, who was formerly pastor of the Dille Cooperative Parish, the home parish of the couple who were married.

“The bride was lovely in a navy crepe afternoon dress with white accessories, a white veil hat caught with daisies, and a shoulder corsage of white carnations. The groom wore a dark suit with a carnation boutonniere. The ring bearer was little Janet Lenore Zimmerman, daughter of the pastor, who wore yellow crepe with accessories of navy and white.

“Before the service Schubert’s ‘Serenade’ was played by the pastor’s wife.

“The wedding supper consisted of roast lamb, green peas, mint jelly, spring salad, a three-tiered wedding cake, ice cream and coffee. After spending several days at the Zimmerman home, the happy couple have gone on to Plainfield, N.J., where they will spend some time with a friend of the bride’s family, Miss Jane Van Arsdale.”

Their first year, Milrea worked in Sayre and came home just on weekends. They’d spend one weekend at her home, the next at his. Later, though, they moved into their current home. It wasn’t in such good shape then, so they lived in just two rooms while they fixed up the rest.

Paul worked the family farm and hauled all kinds of things - milk, coal, groceries, cinder blocks, even rafters from up in Unadilla, N.Y. - for over 20 years. “I hauled most everything,” he says. Milrea ran the local phone exchange from the house.

And then their little family grew. And it grew again. And again and again and.

Today their eight kids’ senior photos line a shelf in the living room, all equal size, snuggled up one against another. From left to right you have: Seth, who lives in Potterville; Linda (Robinson) of South Hill, near Herrickville; Laura, or “Lolly,” as they call her, whose last name by coincidence is also Robinson, in Port Allegany, Pa.; Martin of Potterville; Carol (Tayne) of Seneca Falls, N.Y.; Norman and Tom, both of Potterville; and Bart, in Texas.

Below are photos of a big, busy family: brides in gowns, little kids, a girl with a bow in her hair, Paul and Milrea dressed up for something special.

The family years sprouted memories the way a yard sprouts flowers in spring. Later Bart wrote a poem called “Mother’s Kitchen,” telling about things like a wood cookstove, and fresh eggs on the counter that would freeze on a cold night. He remembered the telephone counter, row of coats and sweaters, homemade ice cream, “her famous apple dumpling.” Seth built a cat house there. Linda did her hair. Mart taught Bart to tie his shoe.

In the fall, they canned, canned and canned. Relatives were entertained. Meals were served. Milk was spilled. Meetings were held.

“Even strangers would soon learn the real front door was in Mother’s kitchen,” he wrote near the end.

“What a blessing it is to know Mother’s kitchen.”

Once, Paul and Milrea report, little Norman got away from them and rode his tricycle all the way to the high school. Another time, Marty went motorcycle riding when he wasn’t supposed to - so Paul made him memorize the 10 Commandments. (Milrea doubts he did it.)

But Paul remembers once hearing Bill Davis, a Northeast science teacher, tell about students causing trouble. Then he saw Paul. “I never had any trouble with your kids!” he declared.

“They’re well-trained before you get them,” Paul answered.

Today, the kids have long since moved out and had their own who’ve had THEIR own. Paul reports 11 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

What do the kids think about Grandma and Grandpa? Well, you have Bart’s fond poem. Their son-in-law Cliff Robinson also wrote a poem (One thing he recorded was how Paul would stick his false teeth out for fun.)

Carol and her husband, Bob, got married on her parents’ anniversary in 1977. And in 2010, Paul and Milrea’s grandson Ryan and his wife, Amber, also married on that date in the Edsells’ back yard.

That’s respect. And that’s honor.

Today, life has slowed down for Paul and Milrea. She doesn’t get out much. Her engagement ring is too thin to wear, and she’s had Paul’s wedding band and hers welded together into one, which she wears on one hand. On the other she wears a ring with the family’s birthstones. Paul lost his second ring in the yard. So now he’s on his third - but “one woman,” he notes.

Yes, time has passed. How do you make it to 70 years?

You have to be healthy. “We come from a long line of old people!” Milrea says. Her grandmother Crawford lived to almost 100; her dad, about 90. Paul’s Grandmother Davis also made it to almost 100.

Both Paul and Milrea have endured health problems and been on hospice - Milrea three times. But both are off it now.

“We’re pretty good shape,” Milrea says. “The only thing, I’m pretty slow!”

Hard work’s helped keep them well, she believes. “We’ve always been busy doing something,” she says.

“With eight kids you don’t sit too long!”

And, to make it to 70 years of marriage, you have to be committed.

Now, Paul and Milrea aren’t flowery about that. It’s simple.

“It just happened,” she says.

“Takes a little give and take,” her husband says. “I’m not sorry, I’ll tell you that!”

“I couldn’t get along without him now,” Milrea says. “I know I couldn’t live alone if it wasn’t for him to wait on me!”

Here’s what Paul thinks: “She’s been a real good partner.” And a good cook.

And it all started with a dare. The best dare Paul Edsell ever took.

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Online:

https://thedailyreview.com/news/potterville-couple-marking-70th-anniversary-1.1696644

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Information from: The Daily Review, https://www.thedailyreview.com

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