- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) - The Swider and Mitchell families of Greenwood are connected more closely than through a recent marriage.

In fact, it was the love stories of Eddie and Jane Swider and Jack and the late Evelyn Mitchell back in 1950 that set the wheels in motion for Ashley Thompson - the Mitchells’ granddaughter - and Walt Swider - the Swiders’ grandson - to meet, fall in love and marry on May 23.

Eddie Swider, a New Jersey native, met Jack Mitchell of Indianola while they were both serving in the Navy.

“We were both storekeepers on the same ship,” said Swider.

They soon became friends. About three years later, Mitchell made up his mind that he was going to use a 30day leave from Navy to travel to his home state and marry a Greenwood girl he had been corresponding with for the past few years while serving his country.

“I had been writing her back and forth for about three years,” said Mitchell.

Before joining the Navy, Mitchell had met Evelyn Fancher when he brought his cow from his home in Indianola to a livestock show in Greenwood. The two got to know each other better through the love letters they would send each other after Mitchell joined the Navy.

“He told me he was going to get married on our 30day leave, and he wanted me to be his best man,” said Swider.

Another one of their Navy buddies, who was from Alabama, drove the two young men from where they were stationed in San Francisco to Mississippi for $20 apiece.

“We had about three flat tires on the way,” said Swider.

Mitchell, with Swider tagging along, went to pick up his future bride at her workplace in Greenwood on a Saturday in March 1950.

Also working with Evelyn was Jane Tanksley of Greenwood.

“I thought she was beautiful,” said Swider.

Jane said she told one of her friends and coworkers when Swider walked in the establishment, “Gosh, he’s good-looking.”

Jane and Evelyn had been friends for many years. Jane said they did everything together.

“Evelyn was my best friend,” she said.

Mitchell said that he thought it had to have been love at first sight for Eddie and Jane.

“I think so,” said Swider. Jane agreed that it “must have been.”

Over the next week, Eddie and Jane went on three dates. Two of those included double dates, where the truck they were in ran out of gas.

“There was a country western band playing in Cleveland on Friday night, so we all got in my dad’s pickup truck and stayed until about 12 that night,” said Mitchell. “We were bringing the girls back home, and we ran out of gas 10 or 12 miles outside of Greenwood.”

After finally getting gas back in the truck, Mitchell and Swider dropped the girls off at their homes.

“Me and Eddie couldn’t wait to get up the next morning,” said Mitchell. “We came back to Greenwood, picked those girls up and got married sure as the world.”

It was seven days later, and Mitchell was ready to marry Evelyn. Within that week, however, love was blossoming between Swider and Jane.

“We met on a Saturday night, and we married the next Saturday,” said Jane.

Jane was set to be a bridesmaid for her friend, Evelyn.

“On the way to their wedding, we were sitting on the back seat, and Evelyn said, ‘I think y’all should just go ahead and get married. You’re a nice couple. Just go on and get married, too,’” Jane said.

Eddie immediately told Jane, “It’s OK with me.” Jane agreed it was OK with her, too.

“We were on the way to get their marriage license, so we got ours too,” Jane said.

The couple had not talked of marriage at all in their seven days of knowing each other.

“It was all of a sudden,” said Jane. “I didn’t think.”

Both Jane and Evelyn were 18. Mitchell was 21, and Swider was three months shy of 21.

When Eddie and Jane went to get their marriage license, they ran into a couple of problems.

“They didn’t believe I was 18, but I had to call my sister to tell them that I was old enough,” said Jane. “She chewed (the man who called) out. She didn’t know anything about it. None of my family knew anything about it.”

Swider said that the Tanksley family sent a “posse” out looking for the couple.

There was also a hiccup for Swider getting the marriage license.

“I was told I couldn’t get a marriage license because I was not 21, and that was the law,” said Swider. “I was told I had to get my parents to give an OK, but my parents were working. I called my sister, and she said ‘What do you want it for?’ I told her for a marriage license, and she said, ‘No, you don’t.’”

The couple finally got everything to work in their favor. With a $3 fee, the Swiders were official.

Jack and Evelyn and Eddie and Jane were wed in a double wedding ceremony in a little country church in Linn, where Mitchell had family nearby.

“It was thundering and lightning, so I don’t know if it was a warning or a happy warning,” said Swider.

On March 11, the Swiders celebrated their 65th anniversary. The couple settled down in Greenwood and has three sons, Walter, Frank and David.

They have eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The Mitchells were married for 58 years before Evelyn passed away in 2008. The couple, also settled in Greenwood, has four children, Cynthia, James, Pamela and Jennifer. The have nine grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

The double exchanging of vows for the Swiders and Mitchells in 1950 came full circle for them on May 23.

Ashley Thompson, the daughter of Kenneth and Jennifer Thompson of Greenwood and granddaughter of Jack and Evelyn Mitchell, married Walter Swider Jr., the son of Walter and Judy Swider of Greenwood and grandson of Eddie and Jane Swider, at Colonel’s Quarters in Oxford.

“We think it’s wonderful,” said Jane.

While the Swiders reminisce about their spontaneous, quick and a little unusual courtship, Eddie said, “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

___

Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, https://www.gwcommonwealth.com


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