Lawrence and Uleen Jordan of Charlotte, N.C., recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary by recommitting their love to one another. This is the second time they have renewed their vows since marrying more than seven decades ago. With help from their daughter, Fern Robertson, they shared their love story and the secrets to their long-lasting relationship.
Bride: Uleen Cunningham Jordan, 86, former owner Jordan’s Family Daycare, native of Charlotte, N.C.
Groom: Lawrence Jordan, Sr., 90, retired milling worker, native of Monroe, N.C.
Current Residence: Charlotte, N.C.
Wedding Date: January 4, 1953
Venue/Location: Justice of the Peace
How They Met
(Lawrence) I left home when I was 14 and went to Charlotte and got a job at a sawmill making five dollars a day. Her family lived about two miles away from where I was renting, and her family knew the people that I was living with. One day I saw her. She had legs like this (He gestures to show the size of Uleen’s legs). She was pretty with little bowlegs and walked with a little switch. She would come to the people’s houses where I was staying on the weekends all prettied up. I said, “I like that líl girl.”
One day I went to her house, and her mother invited me in. We sat down and talked, and I asked her if she was dating. She told me no, but her mother said yes, she was dating someone else. She liked the youngest son of the family I was staying with, but he liked her older sister. I got some help from her mother and all the people in what we called Milltown. They told her that she should look more closely at me.
Every weekend when she would come over to the house where I was staying, the candy man would come around, and I would buy her all this candy.
(Uleen) I liked the fact that he was a hard worker, not like most young men these days.
(Fern) At first, my father’s best friend liked my mother, but he couldn’t get his communication together to talk to her. So, he would tell my father, and my father would relay his sentiments to my mom. Eventually, my mom said that she wasn’t interested in that friend for whatever reason. Finally, my dad said, “Well, if you can’t speak for yourself, I’m gonna speak for myself.” So, he started courting my mom. That is what they called dating back then.
He would ride his bicycle to see my mom and bring her candy in his pockets. He said he wore out, I don’t know how many, pairs of pants taking candy to my mom while they were courting. He also gave her short poems that he had written. This is one of those quatrains:
Up on the mountain
Shining like tin,
The way I love you, baby
Is a “dog-gone” sin.
I am not sure how long they courted. I don’t think it was very long because courtships didn’t last that long back then. While they were courting, my aunts and uncles had to go everywhere with them. They could not go out dating by themselves.
(Fern) My parents were married on January 4, 1953, by a justice of the peace. I believe one of my aunts and another person, who I cannot recall, were witnesses. My mom said that when they got married, they didn’t have a place to stay, so they stayed with a friend or relative until they could get their own place. My oldest sister, Mattie Jordan-Sims, was born in 1957. That was followed by my sister Lorraine Wheeler, then I and my brother Lawrence Jordan Jr. They now have nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
My dad worked for more than forty years at a milling company. My mom became the Jordan’s Family Daycare owner, where she worked for thirty-plus years.
Since retiring, they enjoy trips to Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Dragon Buffet, and Olive Garden. They maintain their own home and are able to do a little cooking and cleaning and take care of most of their personal needs. My sister and niece provide a lot of help. My family and I also pitch in to be sure they have everything they need.
Their 50th Anniversary
(Fern) For their 50th anniversary, they renewed their wedding vows. They did not have a formal wedding as newlyweds, so we thought it would be nice if mom got the chance to wear a wedding dress and my dad got all dressed up and walked down the aisle. All the children and grandchildren were a part of their wedding renewal. There was a reception that followed.
Their 70th Anniversary
(Fern) On their actual 70th anniversary, we took them out for a nice dinner. Mom and dad thought that was the end of it, but we had a much grander plan. On January 21, 2023, we gave them a surprise 70th-anniversary party.
Friends and family gathered at the Tyvola Senior Center for a celebration of their love. Mom wore a white wedding dress with a modest train and jacket. Dad wore a handsome blue suit. With their granddaughter, Camille Robertson, and grandson, Kyle Robertson, serving as their maid of honor and groomsman, they renewed their vows once again. When the minister said, “You can kiss your bride,” they shared a kiss long enough to prompt some guests to suggest they get a room.
There was a performance during the reception that highlighted their courtship and marriage. It included a re-enactment of his bicycle trips with pockets full of candy and recitations of dad’s poems. One of the most touching moments of the day was when dad sang one of their favorite songs, ‘Since I Met You Baby’ by Ivory Joe Hunter. My mom just beamed. Then they had their first dance. It was a day that none of us will forget.
Secrets to a 70-year marriage
(Lawrence) When I was 17 my father told me, “If you are planning to get married, don’t let both sides of the house catch on fire simultaneously. If you do, there will be hell to pay.” If one side starts on fire (gesturing to show rapid talking) and then the other side catches on fire (gesturing to show fighting motions), everything will light up.
There was never a time when I thought of going our separate ways.
(Uleen) I have never thought of leaving. I wanted to make it with him. There was never anyone else out there, not for me. I want to make it with him to the end.
(Fern) Back in the day, an advertisement said, “When E.F. Hutton talks, everybody listens.” We used to say that my dad was like E. F. Hutton. He is on the quiet side and doesn’t talk much, but it is important when he does, and you need to listen.
When my dad would say, “Don’t let both sides of the house catch on fire at the same time,” he meant both of you cannot be mad at the same time.
My mom was more on the talkative side. She has quite a personality and is just funny. I think the secret to their happy marriage has been having a good attitude.
The Best Part of 70 Years Together
(Lawrence) She has been so sweet and so nice.
Maybe that is why he gave the following quatrain to Uleen.
Apples on the table
Peaches on the shelf,
Baby, I’m getting tired
Of sleeping by myself.
Please take a moment to congratulate Lawrence and Uleen and wish them continued health and happiness in the comment section.
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