Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Mon, Feb. 24

Three couples, who married 55 years ago, revisit courthouse where it all began

Three couples returned to the place where it all began 55 years ago.

The couples, who were married Sept.

21, 1947, revisited the Mohave County Courthouse where they exchanged vows in front of Justice of the Peace E.

E.

Wishon.

They have remained friends, and say they don't regret their decision to marry even though they were all teen-agers without parental approval.

"We were all living in Bakersfield at the time," said Mary Spangler.

"None of us had our parents' permission.

We just did it."

The youngest of the six friends, Mary was just 15 at the time, Opal was 17, Ova was 18 and the men were all 19.

They all worked as farm laborers in California.

Weldon Bruce, who married Mary's sister Opal, and Junior Bruce, who married Ova, were cousins whose fathers owned a "potato contract" together.

Although Mary and Al Spangler had been going together for a year when they decided to marry, Ova and Junior had never even dated when they decided to join the other two couples traveling from California to Kingman to get married.

But Ova said she knew Junior was the man for her.

"Junior and I knew each other.

He tried to date me, but Daddy wouldn't let him.

While I was working in the field he would send me ice cream from the ice cream man.

He worked in the potato shed," she explained.

"I'm still crazy about her," Junior said, as he looked at his bride of 55 years.

The friends decided to come to Kingman to marry because, at that time, they didn't need a blood test or a birth certificate.

They spent their honeymoon at Hualapai Courts, which is no longer in business.

After they married, the couples went back to Bakersfield to collect their few possessions before returning to Kingman.

"We got jobs disassembling army aircraft at Kingman Army Airfield," Weldon said.

"We did that for a few months, then each couple went their separate way."

Because Mary and Opal are sisters, they have stayed in touch over the years, and five years ago, on their 50th anniversary, all three couple celebrated in Oklahoma, where Weldon and Opal now live.

Junior and Ova Bruce, who now live in Jasper, Ark., say they plan to spend their 60th anniversary with their friends.

Al and Mary Spangler, who live in Bay Point, Calif., are amazed at how Kingman has grown in the last 55 years.

"It is not the same small town it once was," Al said.

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