‘Meant for each other’
Falling in love during simpler times
On Nov. 1, 1944, as World War II was in full swing, 18-year-old Eleanor Bartley and 21-year-old Joseph Waltz exchanged wedding vows at the Little Chapel of the Good Shepherd of Messiah Lutheran Church in South Williamsport.
Today Eleanor, 93, and Joseph, 96 still only have eyes for each other, and will soon celebrate their 75th anniversary with friends and a family that has grown to include five daughters, 16 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
The couple met as teenagers, both attending Hepburnville High School. Eleanor was a good friend of Joseph’s sister, Bessie. Eleanor spent time at the Waltz home in Warrensville with Bessie and admits, “I always kind of liked him,” she said with a smile.
Joseph came up to Eleanor’s family home in March of 1942 and asked Eleanor if she wanted to go for a drive in Joseph’s 1938 Dodge pickup truck.
“I went in the house to ask my dad, if I could go and he said yes,” Eleanor said.
The couple went for a drive and when they returned to Eleanor’s home, a smitten Joseph asked for a second date, to see a movie that Saturday night. “That was my first date,” Eleanor said.
After dating for a couple of months the couple knew they were meant to be.
“He was just so nice, sweet, he was just my ideal,” Eleanor said. “I was a lot nicer then than I am now,” Joseph added with a smile.
“He had good humor, he has for all of our life,” said Eleanor laughing.
The couple got engaged in August of 1944, when Joseph asked her “What would you say if I asked you to marry me?” “I’d say yes,” said Eleanor.
When asked why he proposed to Eleanor, Joseph simply replied, “Because I loved her.” “We just knew we were meant for each other,” Eleanor added.
The couple had a small wedding on Nov. 1, 1944, in South Williamsport attended by just the couple and the Rev. Edward Shaheen and his wife. Eleanor’s brother was serving overseas during World War II. “In wartime you didn’t make a big fuss,” Eleanor said.
Joseph, a lifetime hunter, jokes, “she was my game in hunting season,” their wedding day also being the first day of squirrel and rabbit season.
“I was his honey bunny,” smiled Eleanor.
The couple drove their 1938 Dodge Coupe to Atlantic City for a few days of a low-key honeymoon, where they walked on the boardwalk.
“We were about the only ones there,” Joseph said, referring to the wintertime weather of their trip.
“We didn’t care, we were in love,” Eleanor added.
The first year of marriage the couple lived with Joseph’s family at their farm near Warrensville.
Times were tight then, things like sugar, meat, gasoline were all rationed as part of the war effort.
“We made do with what we had,” Eleanor said.
Farmers like Joseph were deferred from the draft because the country needed them to continue their work at home. While living at the family farm Eleanor learned how to make Joseph’s favorite dishes from his mother Grace.
About a year later the couple moved into their own farm nearby where they lived and worked for 74 years, raising five daughters.
“We were poor but we didn’t know it, we were happy,” said their daughter Dawn Myers.
“When you’re in love you can make do,” Joseph said. Eleanor agreed, “When you have nothing, you have each other”.
The Waltz family was kept busy running the farm, as well as Joseph, his brother, William, and father, Clark, starting the C.H. Waltz Sons Inc. business in Warrensville in 1947 where Eleanor kept the company books and Joseph was president until his retirement in 1986.
The couple’s daughters share that they never saw their parents fight. “They were great examples,” said daughter Lorraine Waltz-Folmar.
“If we had any trouble by the time we got done doing our work, it was forgotten. We didn’t have time to fight, we just got along together real good. We have never gone to bed mad. We just made up,” Eleanor said.
Eleanor thinks marriages today may have a harder time starting out than the couple did in the 1940’s.
“It’s much different today, there are too many obstacles in the way to make a happy marriage,” referring to outside influences such as jealousy and discontent over finances.
“You really have to be dedicated,” Joseph said. “We started at the bottom and worked up, kids today want to start at the top and stay there.”
“I couldn’t even compare it to today, there’s so much difference from the time we were married ’til now,” Eleanor said.
Their shared faith in God has also seen them through the years, “You should have the Lord in everything you do” Eleanor said.
Today the couple, who live with their daughter, Myers, are in good health and still enjoy spending time together, going out to eat and taking drives.
“I don’t go anyplace without him,” Eleanor said.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been as long as it has,” said Joseph smiling at his bride, “We married for keeps.”