Cline and Mary Farthing have a rock-solid marriage
by Sherrie Norris
As they prepare to celebrate
their 75th wedding anniversary on Saturday, Aug. 25, Cline and Mary Farthing
are proof that marriage rocks --
especially when they're seated side-by-side in twin rocking chairs on the front
That's pretty much the way
it's been for the last few years, but neither one is complaining.
"It's gotten kinda
monotonous," Cline said, referring to "talking about it" -- and not the marriage
"It's all been said and
done, there's nothing new to tell. Just write what you did five years ago and
nobody will ever know the difference," he said.
Five years ago, Mountain
Times Publications visited the Farthings as they celebrated what, even then,
was a major milestone. Now, it's an even greater day on Goshen Creek as the
couple anticipates another special celebration.
This time, however, the
eating and singing -- and dancing, if there is any -- will be in the couple's
"We're just not able to go
out much anymore, so the party will have to come to us," Cline said.
It's been a long and
interesting journey, they said.
"But, I wouldn't trade it
for anything in the world," Mary said.
They met while they were
students at Appalachian State Teachers' College in Boone, Cline said,
emphasizing that it was accidental that they got together.
"I had no inclinations
toward courting and even less notions of marrying," he said, "at least until I
had completed my education."
"Like all the other girls, I
just wanted to get married," Mary said.
She said she already had a
boyfriend who was studying to be a preacher when she met Cline, who said that
"back then, if a girl wasn't married by 18, she was considered an old maid, but
all I could think about was athletics and finishing school."
"That was my life," he said.
"No time or room for a girl."
Mary changed his thinking,
but about a year passed before they got serious "and two more before we
married," she said
Raised in the Bethel
community, Cline said he never fit into a pattern.
"I had nothing close to a
normal upbringing," he said.
Cline attended a small high
school in Bethel and graduated from high school through classes at Lees-McRae
Junior College in Banner Elk, where he lived and worked his way through school.
"I went on to Appalachian
and, with an extra year, finished with three majors -- science, history and physical education,"
Cline was known for his
intellect and his athletic ability. He was at the top of his class at
Lees-McRae and the first physics student at Appalachian, as well as a star
football player who, many years later, was later inducted into the school's
sports hall of fame.
Simultaneously, Mary, a
Caldwell County native, obtained her teaching certificate, and finishing a year
earlier than Cline, left the mountain for her first teaching job, near Fayetteville.
A long-distance romance
Cline accepted a combined
teaching and coaching job in Asheville, which he said, "didn't pay enough to
He taught for five years, at
various locations, before returning to school and eventually moving to
Baltimore to work as a management engineer with Martin Aircraft Co.
The couple married in the
meantime, in Mountain City, Tenn.
"It was cheaper there, Cline
said, "and no waiting."
They lived in Maryland for
10 years "all during the war," he said.
Cline took a job with Bell
Telephone, moved his family to Winston-Salem and retired after 30 years.
Mary taught for 17 years.
"Just wherever he was working at the time," she said.
Even retirement wasn't "normal," Cline said.
"I had a real estate operation on Oak Island, where I bought and sold property for about 12 years, after I left Bell Telephone. I finally sold out and bought this place," he said. "For about 20 years, we split our time between here and Florida."
"Driving became a hassle,"
Mary said, "and at 92, we decided it was best to stay in one place."
"We've always loved the
mountains," she said. "The last few years, our lifestyle has been more relaxed.
We have no clocks to watch and just spend our time rocking on the front porch."
Cline and Mary had been
relatively healthy, until Cline developed congestive heart failure two years
ago and was critically ill for a time.
"I was in the hospital," he
said. "They called hospice in, but as you can see now, I'm fairing pretty
"They are doing well because
of the four wonderful ladies and the whole village around them that takes care
of them," said their daughter, Abbey Courtney, a retired teacher who was
recently widowed, living in Kelso, Wash. The couple has another daughter,
Victoria Leonard, a veterinarian in Stafford, Va. They also have two
Cline's decreased mobility
has halted his longtime ritual of preparing their breakfast each morning.
"He used to fix us bacon and
eggs," Mary said, "And, we've always drank lots of milk. We still do, but
someone else does the cooking. We have good help and our niece and her husband
live across the driveway from us. They are so good to help us."
Both have passed their 97th
birthdays, with Mary's 98th coming in October.
They said they've had a good
life and have enjoyed a lot of travel.
"We're content right here,
right now and don't go off the place much, anymore," Cline said.
The admiration they have for
each other is evident.
"She's been a good wife," Cline said. "I was lucky to get her. She took an awful chance when she married me. Her life hasn't been a bed of roses. She had $30 to her name when she married me and that was more than I had."
"Cline has been very good to me," Mary said. "I wouldn't have had it any other way."
Cline has had a fascination
with music since childhood.
"There was nothing else to entertain you back then, except for what you could come up with on your own," he said.
It was just natural to sit around the fire at night and sing, he said.
"Someone might have had an
old guitar they would start banging on, but it was something we all picked up
by trial and error," he said. "There was nobody teaching you."
As an adult, Cline took
formal music lessons and, upon retirement, joined a local group of musicians
known as "The Aristocrats."
"We performed at the local senior centers and anywhere anyone would have us," Cline said. "We got old and some started dying out, so the band dissolved."
He especially loves big-band music, but also "anything done professionally."
Mary always enjoyed cooking,
needlework and flowers, but visual loss slowed her down in recent years. Even
legally blind, she continued to sew quilt pieces and grow flowers.
When asked about advice for
young couples today, Mary said, "Just be kind to each other and don't go in
"I've never been given much
advice that was worth much," Cline said. "Anything I'd advise anyone wouldn't
apply in today's world."
Times are different now, he said.
"Nobody really cares what
worked for us, but when I came along, everyone always told me to save my
money," he said. "Well, nobody saves anything in this day and time. They spend
not only everything they can make, but everything they can borrow, too.
Anything a 97-year- old has to say wouldn't carry much weight today."
Life was entirely different
when he was a child, Cline said.
"We lived in a rural society
and every man had a house and a couple of acres to farm on -- and chickens, a
hog, a cow and a horse -- and he raised his own food," he said. "You can't find
a hog anywhere around Boone anymore."
The good old days are never
far from their minds.
"I never expected to make it
this far," he said.