Glenn and Nannie (Smith) Duck newspaper article
[Grand Junction, Colorado Daily Sentinel, undated (ca. 1987), by Melissa Pollen]

Mutual love affair keeps 75-year marriage strong

Glenn Duck had a notion in 1910 — suggested by his father, of course — that if he kept that cow moving for Mr. Smith all the way back from the farm sale, he might be rewarded for his labors.

And rewarded he was with his choice of any one of Mr. Smith's three daughters. Well, sort of.

Glenn married his choice, Nannie Smith, on March 4, 1912, in Alva, Okla. But their love is a mutual affair, and after nearly 75 years of marriage, the two are still together in their Grand Junction home.

Glenn and Nannie met one day when he went to her house to play a table game with her brother.

"I thought she was pretty nice," Glenn confided with a little grin.

After two years of courting, they decided maybe it was time to tie the knot.

"Everyone else was getting married," said Nannie, who also noted she was impressed by, "that pretty little buggy and horse Glenn had when we were courting."

Their life together has seen many changes, some good, some bad. Through it all, Glenn and Nannie, both 94, continue to take life, as she says, "one day at a time."

At the start of their marriage, Glenn was working as a barber. They later moved to a farm with the help of their parents and families, who gave them a cow and some chickens to get started.

Glenn would work all day in the field and after they put their children to bed in the evenings, Nannie would spend hours helping Glenn learn to use a telegraph. Nannie would send Glenn all the news from the local paper and he would write it down.

When their wheat crop failed one year, it was their diligent practice and time all those evenings that helped Glenn get his job as a telegrapher and agent for the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad. Glenn was good at his job, too, and faithfully worked for 28 years.

Glenn lost most of his hearing and had to take early retirement when lightning struck the telegraph wire he was working with during a storm. Although that was many years ago, Glenn can sometimes still hear the ticking noise of the telegraph.

Nannie spent her days at home doing handiwork and cooking. According to Glenn, "She's a good cook and she learned to telegraph," making her a good wife for him.

Glenn and Nannie have outlived their four children. A daughter, Olive, and a son, Ray Daniel, both died in infancy. Their oldest son, Lester, died in 1970 at the age of 58 and another son, Vernon, died in 1983.

When their children were young, Nannie would gather them in front of her and read to them. Vernon developed the ability to read a book very well looking at it upside down because of the many hours spent in front of his mother who held the book in her lap.

Nannie and Glenn believe they raised good and smart boys.

"They had a little mischief in them like all boys, but they were smart, too," Nannie said.

"I may be old-fashioned, but I still believe women should stay home and take care of their children."

Nannie remembers one particularly scary time when they lived in Kansas and Glenn was sick. To summon the doctor, she had to walk at night through a pasture for nearly a mile to get to a neighbor's house. She was afraid of the unpredictable farm animals.

"I took my gun though and made it," she quickly added, exposing a hint of her determination and strength.

The Ducks moved to Grand Junction area in 1948. They came to visit their son, Vernon, and his wife, Arvis, and just never left.

The couple are content with their lives and consider the church to have been a strong influence on them. The elders of the Clifton Church still bring communion to their home every Sunday.

Nannie said she believes that part of their happiness has come because Glenn never drank, smoked or gambled, though he does have a little annoying habit of "turning off his hearing aid when I talk too much or raise my voice."

Glenn and Nannie have done pretty well even though, "his mother always thought I would be the death of him because I made him fried potatoes and he loved them," said Nannie, with a little laugh. "She didn't think they were very good for him."

Glenn and Nannie have raised their children, struggled through hard times, and shared their accomplishments. They seem happy, though they may have a little disagreement now and then.

Nannie noted she can still call Glenn "smarty pants" and get away with it.

[Contributed by P.Teter]

Copyright 2004-2011 P.A. Teter
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