Stop the Press! Strike Up The Band! Call Out the Militia!
This event will go down in history. Not many couples celebrate a 70th wedding anniversary! But my parents, Benjamin E. and Hazel K. Bentz Druck will do just that on February 8, 2011.
That’s right. They were married on a snowy Saturday afternoon in Towson, Maryland. Clifford Richmond, a Minister of the Gospel, pronounced them man and wife. The 17-year-old bride wore a blue dress with a matching jacket. She had bought it especially for the occasion. The groom, 22, wore a suit and tie.
A handsome young couple! Not Ben and Hazel's wedding photo, but taken a few years later, possibly 1943 or 1944.
On their way home, the newlyweds stopped to make their first purchase together. “We bought a suitcase,” recalls my dad. “We paid 75 cents for the suitcase.”
Ben and Hazel had met while enjoying a favorite pastime: roller skating. Their friendship blossomed. And then one day, Ben came courting in his 1934 Ford.
Hazel lived with her mother, Martha “Mattie” Bentz, and sister “Mots” on a farm in York Township, Pennsylvania. In the waning years of the Great Depression, Hazel, Mots, and Mattie eked out a living by raising vegetables, which they took to the City of York to sell. Mots drove the car. Hazel stayed home and tended the animals or worked in the fields.
When Ben came by to ask her out, Hazel – now 87 years old - was helping thresh wheat. She was covered with brown dust. “But it didn’t scare him away,” she said of her future husband.
The roller-rink romance led to something more serious. “We fell in love like most young couples do,” Ben says, “and the next thing you know we were getting married.” It wasn’t a big wedding. ”In those days,” explained the 92-year-old great-grandfather, “you hunted up a preacher or Justice of the Peace, and you got married.”
Ben and his Ford!
What a hat!
The young couple moved into their first home: a renovated “nice little summer house” on Mattie’s farm.
“It wasn’t much of a house compared to what people have today,” said Ben, who had grown up on a small farm, “but it was a way of getting started.”
“It had two rooms,” recalls my mom, “one up, one down; toilet outside.”
Ben and Hazel have come a long way since those early days; I’ve written often of their progress and success. I’m proud of them both.
From their first two-room home, they eventually moved to a 40-acre farm, where they lived for 30 years and raised five children, along with thousands of chickens that produced thousands of dozens of eggs! Possibly millions. We all shared the farm work, but my dad always held a full-time job too. He’s a hard-working, self-educated man.
Mom feeds Dad a slice of cake during their 25th anniversary party.
Our growing family in the living room of the old farm house.
During World War II, Dad sweated long hours in a hot, dirty foundry, making bombs. He next took a job as a carpenter. Several years later he was working as an overhead garage door salesman and the department manager.
In late 1969, he started his own business, and Ben Druck Door Company is still going strong. Now Ben’s grandsons own and operate the successful, well-known area business. The company is thriving and has an excellent reputation (see www.bendruckdoor.com).
During the later years of their marriage, Ben and Hazel enjoyed hunting together, especially out West, where they pursued deer and antelope. They’ve also traveled to several other areas of the world, including Hawaii, Alaska, South America, Trinidad, and the southern United States. In his younger days, Ben became involved with the Dallastown Lions Club, serving a term as president in 1973-74.
Another highlight of my parents’ lives was square dancing. They started hoofing it up in September 1979, dancing their way around the country for 12 years. They had to hang up their western attire only when Dad could no longer hear the caller, and the fast pace became a bit too strenuous for him.
“We square-danced in the northernmost square dance club in Alaska,” recalled my father. “We also danced in Florida, and every place in between.”
They danced their way around the country!
When they quit square dancing, they took up golfing. They began the sport in 1989, while living in Florida, where they had bought a doublewide home. They no longer go south for the winter, though, and Ben has given up golf. Hazel, however, continues to take to the greens weekly throughout the season, despite some recent nagging shoulder and back problems.
Incredibly, she still takes care of their large lawn, tends dozens of flowering plants in her garden, and bakes bushels of Christmas goodies. When she needs a break, she’s usually working on a cross-stitch piece, reading, or doing a crossword puzzle.
Since Dad can’t get around the way he once did, he reads a lot, especially inspirational pieces, and watches TV – although often he can’t hear what’s being said!
Ben and Hazel are both truly amazing. Neither was born with a “silver spoon” in their mouth. Both suffered hardships growing up. Not only did they live through the Great Depression, they both endured what today would be called a “dysfunction” family life. In the early years of their marriage, they struggled to make ends meet, as most young couples did. But they persevered and have lived a full life, with many good memories. Although they both had only eighth grade educations, Dad became a successful business owner. It took lots of hard work and dedication, and Mom was always by his side.
Dad in 1981 at age 63.
To what do they attribute their long marriage? Ben and Hazel agree that it’s because they’ve “always done everything together,” whether it’s working, dancing, traveling, hunting, or golfing.
Together they raised five kids, who produced 12 grandchildren, who have given Ben and Hazel 22 great-grandchildren. They also have a step-granddaughter whom they first met in 1981.
I’d like to throw a big bash to honor my parents on this special occasion. But given Dad’s health issues, Mom thought we should forgo the partying. She suggested that I ask everyone to send cards instead. Dad loves to get cards in the mail. So that’s the plan. I hope everyone reading this – even if you don’t know them – will send a congratulatory note to:
Ben and Hazel Druck, 392 Sparton Rd., York, PA 17403.
Mark your calendars now, so the card arrives in time for the big day. But, even if it’s late, I’m sure they won’t mind!
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO A TRULY AMAZING COUPLE:
BEN & HAZEL DRUCK
MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU!
Still going strong after 70 years of togetherness!!