Joan Etnire, originally from England, is a retiree in Anniston. She came to America as a young war bride, with an infant in tow, on her way to live with her American soldier husband, Bob. She will turn 95 years old later this month, and has focused her life on taking care of others and volunteering.
Tell us about your hometown. My hometown is Thornton-Cleveleys (in England). Two blocks away from my house was the Irish Sea. It was a great place to live. It was a small tourist town. There was a huge city next to it called Blackpool.
How did you meet your husband? It was during World War II. My friend set up a blind date for me; I scolded her and said I did not need her to set up a date for me. She asked who else I knew in London who could set up a date. I said, “Fine, I’ll go.” I lived with him for 71 years.
Tell us about your move to the United States. When I came over here, I had an eight-month-old baby with me — our oldest son. I landed in New York on our wedding anniversary, Feb. 5 — the storms of the equinox caused us to be three days late getting into New York. We made it to Akron, Ohio, where Bob’s family lived. They were so good to me. God could not have picked a better family for me to go to. I was so blessed.
Tell us about your volunteer work. I volunteered with everything you could think of, beginning with the church. Bob was like that, too, and we taught the children to do that, too.
If you had not met Bob, would you have stayed in Thornton-Cleveleys? No, I had planned to be a member of Parliament. My sister would have been a movie star; she had the most gorgeous voice, like an angel. My father was very worried about what college I would go to. I told him I wanted to go to the finest secretarial college in the country. He asked if I wanted to be a secretary. I said, “I have to be something before I am a member of Parliament!” (laughter). I wanted to get to know the business world, and if it was not suitable, I could do something else.
Tell us about your 71 years with Bob. I was so blessed. There were times I could have killed him (laughs). But you cannot live with someone for that length of time without feeling that way sometimes. We did not have many arguments as we got older, but when we were younger and sprightly, we would get into an argument about something or he would hurt my feelings. But we survived it. I made a commitment, and by golly, I was going to stick to it. I loved him. I told him one time, “I know you are not perfect like me, but … ” and he fell off his chair laughing.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at email@example.com.