- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) - They were childhood friends who went on to become high school sweethearts, and on Jan. 9, Parker and Alfreda Hill celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony.

“We both grew up in the Louisville area of Marietta, over where Henry Park is, that side of town,” Parker Hill said. “Henry Park was a playground back then and that’s where the kids of the neighborhood congregated.”

Though the couple believes their first official date was a movie at The Strand Theatre, Alfreda Hill recalls the seeds of their love being planted by a simple gentlemanly gesture.

“He was kind of shy,” Alfreda Hill said. “I had walked down to my grandmother’s house to get a key, and on my way back, he offered to walk me home.”

In high school, she was the co-captain of the Lemon Street High School cheerleaders and he played on the football team. The Hill’s first son, Melvin, would come along in the summer of 1965, but with the love and support of their parents and grandparents, Alfreda Hill was still able to graduate with her class.

“My mom and her grandmother kept our son, so she could finish school,” Parker Hill said. “After graduation we had nothing and moved into public housing. Our parents had nothing to give us.”

“But, love,” Alfreda Hill quickly adds.

The couple furnished their new abode with furniture from the Brumby Furniture Co., bought on a payment plan, and their first dishes came from K-Mart.

“We started from scratch,” Parker Hill said, noting his first job was at Nunn Better Cabinet Co. on Highway 41, where he earned $49.49 a week. “Of course, back then a McDonald’s hamburger cost 12 cents, and I think a Coca-Cola was six cents.”

A daughter, Cassandra, and another son, Christopher, came along during those early years, and the young couple struggled to provide for their growing family. In addition to their own children, the couple also raised Parker Hill’s three adopted siblings.

Eventually, Parker Hill landed at Lucent Technologies, where he retired in 2000, after 29 years on the job, and Alfreda Hill having only ever worked at two places, Rich’s department store and Allstate insurance, retired from Allstate in 2005, after 34 years with the company.

“Parker worked hard to provide for his family,” Alfreda Hill said, “but for two weeks out of 52, he was determined to give his family a vacation. We may have made bologna sandwiches on the beach, but we went to the beach.”

After public housing, there was a short stint in an apartment on Booth Road before the couple purchased the Marietta home they’ve shared for 40 years.

“At the (vow renewal) ceremony there was so much emotion going through my head, about where we are and where we came from,” Parker Hill said. “Looking back over 50 years, we managed to (college) educate all three children, and they’re all married and on their own and doing well.”

The couple is equally as proud of their six grandchildren, one of whom is working on a Ph.D., and their two great-grandchildren. Each had a role in the vow renewal ceremony, which was held at Alfreda Hill’s home church of Wright Street Baptist, where she has been a member since she was 8 years old.

So, what’s the secret to the Hills’ successful 50-year union?

“Forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness,” Alfreda Hill said. “We are friends, and we’ve learned to forgive each other. We’ve had some hard times, just like everyone does, but we’ll be together forever and a day.”


Information from: Marietta Daily Journal, https://mdjonline.com/

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