70 years of marriage seem like a blessing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 16, 2002

When Henry and Selma Bakken took their marriage vows on March 12, 1932, they took them seriously.

Saturday, March 16, 2002

When Henry and Selma Bakken took their marriage vows on March 12, 1932, they took them seriously.

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Henry was 23 and Selma 21.

&uot;We knew what we were doing,&uot; Selma said.

This week the couple celebrated 70 years of married life together, and said they felt truly blessed.

&uot;We hope all married couples can be blessed the way we have,&uot; Selma said. &uot;It seems God has given us extra time together. We feel very fortunate.&uot;

The Bakkens believe a similar work ethic, plus taking the time to talk things out and really listen to each other has made for a long, happy life together.

The couple met at a barn dance near Manchester in September of 1931.

&uot;They used to have a lot of them,&uot; Henry recalled of the dances.

&uot;It was a brand-new barn,&uot; added Selma.

She and some girlfriends went to the dance that night and all ended up meeting someone, she said.

At first, Selma said she wasn’t sure she liked Henry. But he grew on her, and six months later, they were married in the parsonage of Central Freeborn Lutheran Church.

There was no honeymoon. Henry had to be at work at 4 a.m. at Wilson’s the next day, a Sunday. Henry worked in the stockyards at the meat-packing plant for 14 years. Previously, he had worked on the railroad beginning at age 14.

Henry also went to Alaska for a year and worked as a heavy-duty mechanic. He was a mechanic at the Ford garage in Albert Lea until he started his own garage in Manchester.

&uot;I worked right beside him in the garage — sometimes until 4 in the morning,&uot; Selma said. Henry added she did all the brake work and tire patching.

He then worked as a heavy-duty mechanic for a road construction company until he retired. &uot;If we broke down, I had to stay there all weekend until it was fixed,&uot; Henry said. After that, he came back to the Ford garage. After retiring, he also worked for Morreim Drainage.

&uot;Even after he retired, the phone continued to ring,&uot; recalled the couple’s daughter, Jeanette Groskreutz. &uot;Dad was always fixing something.&uot;

Through two depressions, Henry said, he never loafed a day. Being able to provide for the family came first.

Meanwhile Selma worked as an operator at the telephone company, at the Conner Board and Care Center, and for the Albert Lea Good Samaritan Center for 12 years, as well as took care of someone in a private home.

&uot;I loved it,&uot; Selma said of the work with the elderly. &uot;I wanted to be a nurse, but I never got the chance.&uot;

Her mother had died at an early age and her father left the children. They spent time in an orphanage in Owatonna, and Selma was then put in a foster home near Ellendale with Carl and Hilda Dahl.

&uot;They turned out to be my parents,&uot; Selma said. &uot;They had six children who always introduced me as their sister.&uot;

Henry was one of eight children, four of whom are still living.

For the most part, they’ve had their health. Selma has been a member of the ostomy club for 14 years, and Henry did suffer one heart attack. They both need to use walkers to get around, but still live in their own apartment.

&uot;We have a very protective family,&uot; Selma said.

The family includes son Harold and his wife Eunice of Albert Lea; son Donald and his wife Carcie of Mason City; daughter Jeanette and her husband Roger Groskreutz of Wells; six grandchildren; five step grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and four step great-grandchildren.

Selma has loved to garden, make quilt tops for her church and children and grandchildren, crochet and embroider. Together, the couple enjoyed camping – never too far from home.

&uot;Dad still tinkers, and Mother loved to bake,&uot; Groskreutz said. &uot;They were both always busy.&uot;

&uot;We never sat around,&uot; Henry added.

&uot;Somehow God always took care of things for us,&uot; Selma said.

Henry and Selma’s children and grandchildren will host a 70th wedding anniversary open house for the couple from 2-4 p.m. today, Sunday, March 17, at the Albert Lea Senior Center in Skyline Mall. All friends and relatives are welcome.