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Melva and Carus Roed, who've called Park Rapids home for the past four years, will celebrate 70 years of marriage June 25. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Park Rapids couple celebrates 70-year marriage next week

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They met at a chivaree 75 years ago.

Carus rode in from Fertile on his Harley Davidson to attend a newlyweds' noisy, mock serenade. Melva arrived from Erskine, a beau at her side.

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But not for long.

Carus began wooing Melva and within a few years the couple was married in a rural Erskine church.

Thursday, the Roeds will celebrate 70 years of matrimony, friends, neighbors and family invited to an open house at their home and gardens -"we already have tomatoes"- in Park Rapids.

Melva, 91, attributes their longevity - marriage and lives - to her homemade bread and going to bed early.

"I never quit making bread," she said.

"We never drink," Carus, 92, added. "We've led a good, healthy life. The good Lord decided to leave us here for a while."

After their marriage in 1939, the couple moved to Detroit, Mich., where Carus worked as a carpenter. Detroit, he said, was dramatically affected by World War II. Car manufacturing came to a standstill when men were sent off to war. Two of his sisters went to work, one in manufacturing tanks and another at an airplane factory.

Family members back home and the fear their children would marry and stay in the industrial city sent them back to the Great Plains - Grand Forks - in the early '50s.

Carus became a foreman for Morrison Knudsen, working in missile site construction in North Dakota.

Toiling in temperatures that often dipped to 30 below, he built and remodeled storage facilities for anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

"They were cold winters," he recalled.

So after retirement, Mesa, Ariz. became their winter destination, departing in October and returning in April - until this past winter.

Melva suffered a stroke and they remained in arctic territory. This was a pleasant change for Melva, who missed the winters after 17 years in the desert.

But Carus, who plays golf twice a week, found winter to be "unhealthy" and socializing nearly nonexistent. "You get to know people there."

The couple are parents to four, two girls, two boys. But both daughters succumbed to cancer.

"We've seen big, big changes," Carus said of their lives, spanning nearly a century.

Young people today are brought up with too much, he said. "We had nothing, no money. But we were satisfied. Everyone was in the same boat. We had no electricity. No running water. We accepted it. We grew up thankful for what we got.

"Now people have everything, and don't know what to be thankful for," he observed.

"But the girls are still good looking," he added with a grin.

Carus and Melva Roed will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary with an open house at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 25 at 601 Eastern Ave. South.

Saturday night, they will be heading for Itasca State Park's Douglas Lodge for another celebratory soiree.

"It's my homemade bread," Melva reaffirmed. "And going to bed early and getting up early."

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