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Seventy years of Harmon(y)

I don't want to get married, she said. Come on, you're gonna marry me, he said.

Seventy years later, Don and Dorothy Harmon are still together and celebrating their wedding anniversary Monday.

The Shady Cove residents met in Grants Pass when Dorothy was 16 and Don was 20. Don was working at a mill, Dorothy at a pear-packing plant. Dorothy said she really wanted to marry Don, just not right away.

But when machinery breakdowns at the mill and the packing plant closed both operations on the same day, the two decided it was just a good a time as any.

— So on Aug. 18, 1933, Don and Dorothy tied the knot at the courthouse in Grants Pass.

We both had to be back at work the next day, said Don. So we drove to Medford and went to a show ' I think it was 35 cents. Then we went to Del's Hamburgers and that was 10 cents for hamburgers then.

Don worked mostly within the timber industry. Early in their marriage, they spent a few years living in and out of logging camps for weeks at a time.

Before World War II, the couple lived in Prineville and Don attended welding school in Bend. They then moved to Portland, where Don took a job as a welder in a Navy shipyard.

I worked at the Willamette Iron Steel Shipyard; there was a Navy shipyard there all during the war, Don said. I was 1-A the whole time, but I guess they figured that I might as well stay at the shipyard.

Don eventually returned to the timber industry, where he felled timber until he was 70 years old.

Although Dorothy had a few jobs here and there, working wasn't a necessity. Her full-time job was raising their four children: Donna Brewster, now 67; Sue Panos, 61; Bill Harmon, 61; and Steve Harmon, 50. They also have seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

In 1951, the Harmons bought their first house, a one-bedroom along the Rogue River in Shady Cove, where they still live today.

In 1964, a destructive flood filled the house with water and silt. The refrigerator fell onto the Christmas tree, the sliding glass windows washed out and furniture floated away, Brewster remembered.

Don remembers seeing houses floating by.

Their house stayed put, but many things floated away, including their end tables ' which they eventually recovered and still own.

The house had to be completely remodeled, so in the process, they added a second bedroom.

At 94 and 90, Don and Dorothy still enjoy each other's company and like to play cribbage and pinochle together.

Don still drives them into town for groceries and errands, but at much slower speeds compared to his youth.

He had his own car, Dorothy remembered. And my mother used to ask, 'Dorothy, now that young man doesn't drive fast?' And I said, 'Oh no, mother.'

Dorothy says Don, in fact, drove like hell.

Later in their marriage, Don and Dorothy were very active, enjoying bowling, golfing and trips to Reno and Las Vegas together.

The couple has never been apart for more than a week at a time.

About the only time we were ever really apart was when I was falling timber clear over out at Silver Lake or places by there; I would be there about a week, said Don.

Besides the occasional silent treatment from Dorothy, the couple has never really fought.

I've always been even-tempered so I don't get mad, said Don.

I'm the one who has the temper, but I don't get mad anymore ' he broke me of it, said Dorothy.

Don and Dorothy can't explain why their marriage worked, or the secret behind a lasting marriage.

Their eldest daughter is equally stumped about the longevity of her parents' relationship.

I would guess it is just the luck of the draw, Brewster said.

Don and Dorothy Harmon tied the knot in August 1933 at the courthouse in Grants Pass. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell