Davises celebrate platinum
KINGMAN - Ray Davis hadn't even been on a date with Lillian Wise when he asked her parents for the 18-year-old girl's hand in marriage.
Both Ray and Lillian worked in the fields surrounding Arvin, Calif., picking cotton and grapes. Ray didn't even know her real name. He only knew her by her nickname "Amolene."
"Can you imagine?" Ray said. "Hadn't even been on a date and we were married. I know it's hard to understand."
The near strangers piled with their parents into a 1936 Ford with a slipping clutch and made the drive down the dusty highway to Las Vegas. They pulled off at the first sign they saw for a church where they were married in a quiet ceremony. There was no honeymoon.
"Yeah, the honeymoon was picking cotton and cutting grapes," Ray said.
Despite barely knowing each other before exchanging vows, the Davis's marriage endured through good times and bad, Ray's stint in the Army during World War II, five children, 20 grandchildren and countless great-grandchildren. On Tuesday, Ray, 90, and Lillian, 89, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary while surrounded by family and members of the Hilltop Foursquare Church congregation.
"They are inspirational to the community," said friend Debbie Cunningham.
Travis is the oldest of the Davis children.
"We could have had worse parents," he joked.
Travis said his parents' long marriage is partly owed to the fact that his dad, a carpenter, worked seven days a week to support the family, and Ray agreed.
"When you're working seven days a week, you don't have time to get into fusses and arguments," Ray said.
Although he was rarely home, Ray consistently served as his wife's protector.
"Us kids knew never to disrespect mom," Travis said.
Mom is always foremost on his mind, Travis added. He said when his dad retired, he opted to draw a lesser amount than he could so that the extra money would be there for Lillian after he died. Ray again served as his wife's protector after she suffered a stroke in 1997. He's been her primary caregiver ever since.
"He's been a good man," Lillian said. "I've had a lot of blessings from the good Lord."
Ray said their 70-year-marriage just came naturally.
"I guess she goes along with me and I go along with her," he said.