The first time he approached her, she ignored him.
He told her that she was “stuck up.”
Six months later, they were married.
On July 6, Emmett Tice and Frances Tice of Phenix City celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
The Phenix City couple had no fancy celebration, just a relaxing meal at Macon Road Barbecue in Columbus, a favorite hangout.
Most of their anniversaries have been observed with a return to Tennessee where they went on their honeymoon. She’s 89 and on New Year’s Day he will be 93, so long trips are a little tougher to make now.
The most memorable of their anniversary trips was at 60 years. They went to Hawaii.
The two, who affectionately call each other “baby,” have lived in the same house for about 60 years where he still does yard work.
“We continue to have a wonderful time together,” Frances said.
Nodding his head in agreement, Emmett adds, “God has blessed us with more than we deserve.”
The couple’s first child, Anne Marie, lived just two hours. There are two grown daughters, Beth McCorkle and Connie Griffin. There are also five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Emmett and Frances met when attending Central High School in Phenix City.
As a junior at the school, Emmett was taken away for military duty in World War II serving on the U.S. Navy Destroyer USS Chauncey in the Pacific Ocean, which was involved in several battles with the Japanese forces.
He recalled taking a bus to Birmingham from the station, which is now Country’s Barbecue on Broadway, then riding a train to San Diego, Calif.
When he returned from the war, he went back to school and met Frances who went by his house every day on the way to Central.
Eventually, he would walk with her, hand in hand, to class every day.
“I told her we were compatible and that we should get married after the junior-senior prom,” Emmett recalled.
She agreed with the compatible part, but wanted to wait until after graduation.
“I wanted that degree in my hand first,” she said.
There wasn’t much time for them to spend together after classes. Her mother died at age 36 from a brain tumor when Frances was 12 and she needed to cook dinner.
The wedding was at Hillside Methodist Church followed by a honeymoon on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga.
After they married, she worked at the Archer Hosiery Mill and he was with the Central of Georgia Railroad.
Later, she would own his business working as an electrician and she would run the office out of their home.
“We had some of the best clients,” he said.
His father was an electrician and also a conductor on a Columbus street car.
She was the middle child of seven and he was the youngest of nine.
Her father was a musician and as a young child, she, with her sisters performed in his band, Luther Sanders and the Serenaders, which had a 15-minute radio show on WRBL.
“Since then all my singing has been in church,” she said.
She added that her father would be the first banjo player at Shakey’s Pizza, once a popular restaurant in Columbus.
Frances said a key to having a successful marriage is listening to what your mate says, really paying attention.
“Don’t hold back but be sensitive to the other person’s feelings. You are not always going to agree but you have to respect what each other has to say. We never saw no use in fussing. We just worked things out,” Frances said.
Asked if she believed in the idea that couples should never go to bed angry with one another, she said, “that is absolutely true.”
“If we had, I would not have been able to sleep, anyway,” Emmett said, laughing.
He spoke about two people in marriage giving freedom to each other. For example, Emmett is a huge fan of Auburn University football. He briefly attended the school.
“I would do my thing and she would do hers. I would always go to games and she never complained. She stayed here and did things she wanted to do,” Emmett said.
And that was usually sewing as she made clothes for herself and her daughters.
But at the same time, couples need to do things together.
They have traveled far and near.
“We believe in living life to the fullest,” she said.
“We just get in the car and go. We do not even have a destination. We take an adventure together,” Emmett said.
One such trip they enjoyed finished in Colorado.
Most of all, they have enjoyed each other. They love to laugh, not taking life too seriously.
“He has always been so sweet,” she said. “We have had such a wonderful life.”
“Life is a great gift from God. We have just taken it one day at time,” Emmett said. “It has been great doing it together.”