ASH FLAT, AR (KAIT) – Sweethearts usually promise each other to "be mine" on Valentine's Day, and one local couple has kept that vow for more than 70 years.
Alfred and Mattie Mae Rogers of Ash Flat recently celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary. The couple says they have led a happy, healthy life together and have a few pointers for those hoping to do the same.
Mattie Mae and her husband are lovingly known in Ash Flat as "Grandmama" and "Grandad."
They met during the summer of 1939, and Mattie Mae says she just knew she would marry Alfred.
"I just loved his eyes and his smile and his talk and his build and everything," she said. "I just loved him."
Mattie Mae, who was 15 at the time, married Alfred on January 13, 1940, almost seven months after their first date.
They have now lived in wedded bliss 73 years.
"We have been happy," she said, holding back tears. "We get along good. Everything worked out for us. We've been blessed."
The couple has three children – Montez, Dolly and Gary – and an ever-growing extended family.
"We have eight grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren," Mattie Mae explained.
Her children and most of her grandchildren still live in the Sharp County area.
Mattie Mae serves lunch to at least 10 to 12 relatives every Wednesday from the home she has shared with her husband for 43 years. This tradition has stood for the past decade, and she still prepares most of the meal herself.
"She will not let us wash dishes," said her daughter Dolly Nicholson with a laugh. "We help her wash pots and pans, but she insists she'd rather visit as wash dishes when it's over so she wants to do the cleaning up herself [too]."
Mattie Mae now has help to care for her 99-year-old husband, who has had a debilitating case of Alzheimer's for almost three years now.
He did not realize that Thursday was her 89th birthday but did give her the only present she wanted.
"I asked Alfred when he got up, I said, do you know what day this? He said, no. I said it's my birthday. He said, it is, and I said yeah, you've got a kiss for me?" Mattie Mae said, making a kissing sound. "He kissed me."
People have often asked the couple how their marriage has lasted so long, so Mattie Mae offers them a few pieces of advice.
"Take care of yourself. Love each other. Work together, and avoid arguments."