Tatto fades, but marriage thrives

June 27, 2002 12:00 am
Wayne and Ardis Rogers were married 70 years ago this Saturday. (Baker City Herald/Brenna Knowles).
Wayne and Ardis Rogers were married 70 years ago this Saturday. (Baker City Herald/Brenna Knowles).

By BRENNA KNOWLES

Of the Baker City Herald

Wayne and Ardis Rogers still laugh when they recall their first date.

One summer Saturday night in 1930 they went to a carnival in Boise.

Wayne decided to get a tattoo.

"It ruined the night," Ardis said.

"It hurt so bad we had to call off our date and go home," Wayne added.

The pain is gone, and the tattoo on his upper forearm of a heart surrounded by holding hands is faded but still visible.

But, one bad date didn't deter Wayne and Ardis. The couple celebrates 70 years of marriage this Saturday.

They met in 1930 in a town called Barber, a place Wayne describes as an old mill town close to Boise. Wayne's sister moved next to Ardis's mother. "That's how we got acquainted," Ardis said. "We were always together from then on."

Wayne said he was working on a ranch in Nampa for $1 a day and only had Saturday afternoons off from work.

Wayne and Ardis spent their Saturday nights together. Sometimes they would go to the Granada theater in Boise. Wayne said they could have a hamburger and root beer for 15 cents. "That was a big date," Ardis said.

Wayne said he and Ardis never dated anyone else after they met each other, and he knew he was in love after going out on eight or ten dates with Ardis.

Ardis said marriage was a mutual decision between her and Wayne. "We just decided we were getting married and went to see if my mom and dad approved. They thought it was OK."

Wayne said he remembers feeling happy when Ardis's dad told him he didn't know of anybody who he'd rather have his daughter marry.

Then they went to see how Wayne's mother felt. She approved, and so did Wayne's father, who they had to track down at the sawmill in Barber where he was working as a night watchman.

On June 29, 1932, Wayne, Ardis and their wedding party (Ardis's mother and sister) drove from Barber to Vale. Wayne and Ardis were married in the Vale Methodist church. He was 18 and she was 17. Wayne said the wedding cost $12, $5 to the preacher, $5 for the marriage license and $2 for a blood test. "Nobody had big weddings then," Ardis said.

Wayne said he remembers having a twenty dollar bill on the day of his wedding. "And I even lost it." He had a new suit and didn't own a billfold so he put the money in the watch pocket which hadn't been sewn. The money fell out in the courthouse and was later found by Ardis and the wedding party.

"I thought I was going to have to ask to borrow money from her family to pay for the wedding," Wayne said.

The Rogers did not have a reception. Wayne said they went home and members of the Barber community came to visit. Wayne went to work the next day.

For their honeymoon the Rogers went fishing with their family for a day and night in the mountains near Boise. "People now would laugh but we had fun and it didn't bother us," Ardis said. "That was during the depression and nobody had any money," Wayne added.

Wayne said in 1935 he and Ardis "took a ranch out of the sage brush" in Vale.

The couple stayed in Vale for 27 years before moving to Sumpter for 23 years. For six of those years Wayne said they ran a store called the Sumpter Supply. When they felt the snow got too deep during Sumpter winters, the Rogers moved to Baker City where they have lived for 17 years. "We love it in Baker," Ardis said.

Wayne and Ardis have three children — Hazel Hansen, Lloyd Rogers, Keith Rogers — and too many grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren to count.

After 70 years, Wayne has developed a philosophy on how to maintain a marriage. "First you have to love one another, then trust one another. If you have any differences you have to sit down and talk them out. Give 100 percent and take 100 percent and never turn your back on God or all is lost."

Ardis said spending 70 years with Wayne "was natural, we didn't think we were doing anything special. We never thought of fighting, we were just working together to raise the youngsters." Ardis said her parents and Wayne's parents were essential to the success of their relationship.

Wayne said his advice for young couples is to not spend more than they earn. He said couples "these days have too many credit cards and they don't realize they have to be paid off and they argue over it."

Wayne and Ardis still go on dates. They like to visit relatives in Baker City and take country drives on Pocahontas road. "We like to watch the crops grow and see the calves and lambs jump up and down," Wayne said.

Settler's Park is planning a celebration for the Rogers' anniversary. Hazel Hansen of Baker City is also planning a family celebration for her mother and father.

Maybe there is something more permanent and lasting than a tattoo.