A Stroud couple marked a major milestone on Sunday. Their kids organized a celebration for their 70th anniversary.
For Charles Castleberry and Etta Winkleman, it was young love. Etta's dad held a get-together at his home and Charles attended. That night changed the couple's lives. Charles told the story with tears in his eyes.
“Etta was sitting back there in a room by herself,” he said. He then told Etta to finish the story while he cried.
“Go ahead tell it,” he uttered.
“Well, he said I was sitting in the corner by myself,” Etta said.
Charles picked up the story again.
“She had a red dress on … and I was smitten,” he said.
She had his heart. But soon Uncle Sam would take him away for duty. So in a small ceremony before he left for World War II, they became the Castleberry's.
“We decided to get married and be together for that 30 days before I had to leave,” Charles said.
“It wasn't a big fancy one or anything,” Etta said about the wedding ceremony. It was at a preacher's home on Nov. 30, 1944. Charles was 20 years old and Etta was 15 at the time. She would turn 16 less than two weeks later.
“We just kind of gelled together, it seemed like,” Charles said.
Charles said he was deployed on a ship convoy to Japan while World War II was in full swing. The couple communicated during that time by snail mail.
He was gone for just a couple of months, but when he made it back from the War, they started their family. And six kids, 11 grandkids, six great grandkids and one great-great grandkid later, they said one thing has kept them together.
“Love,” Charles said.
“Love is all I know,” said Etta.
And that kind of love would last seven decades, through all of life's challenges.
“We got along real well. Never a harsh word. You can believe that if you want to!” Charles said.
They both chuckled. The real kind of love was celebrated over the weekend with a wall of wonderful memories. Photos of the couple in their heyday and each of their families were on the wall.
“You probably can't tell that's me. I used to look like that!” Etta said while pointing at a black and white photo.
Several friends and family members were at the celebration to help them relive their memories.
“They've just been an inspiration for all of us,” said Pat Poskey, a family friend.
And while News 9 cameras rolled, the couple held hands, at age 90 and 85, while looking back on what Charles called, “A very good 70 years.”