Couple celebrates 75 years together
SARANAC LAKE — Alton and Lucille Beideck have been married for 75 years, but they’ve known each other much longer than that.
“He was just a kid up the street,” Lucille said. “And I knew him in school. We lived in a small village where everybody knew everybody else.”
In Corfu, near Batavia in Western New York where the two of them grew up, the school held all grades, first through 12th.
“We didn’t have kindergarten,” said Lucille. Her graduating class was 13 students.
“Back in our time, the families were closer,” said Alton. “One thing that is bad today is that the young people are spread all over the United States.”
The Beidecks’ family, for example, came to Saranac Lake from Minneapolis and Boston as well as Saratoga Springs to attend their 75th anniversary. They held it on Oct. 7 instead of the 16th — the actual day — so their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren could attend.
When Alton proposed marriage to Lucille, he said, “She picked me because I was the only one left. I was only 22. The draft had taken all the young guys.”
Lucille laughs. “I tell him, I made a mistake. The old fellas had the money!”
During their courtship, they liked to go out to hear the big bands. Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller would play Shea’s Theater in Buffalo.
In fact, they were coming out of the theater on Pearl Harbor Day. The din in the street was too much for the two young country people. Newsboys were hawking special editions about the attack, yelling from every street corner.
“Two fellows grabbed me and tried to push me into a recruiting station,” said Alton. “I picked my speed up and got away from that!”
When he was drafted, Alton did his best to leave his wife in good shape. They had a house on the edge of town that they rented, and he gave Lucille two pigs, a dog and 25 chickens.
“I thought I did her a favor,” he said.
“But you didn’t do me a favor,” said Lucille. “Your father did, when he came and took them away!”
“When we were married,” she remembered, “I asked him if he wanted a wedding ring and he didn’t, so I didn’t buy him one. But after he got in the Army, he wanted one. I guess he had to ward off all the women in the USO!”
During the war they wrote to each other almost every day.
“I worked for the county clerk’s office, 10 miles away,” said Lucille. “But my cousin worked in the post office, and before I left in the mornings she’d let me in. She’d flip through the letters and see if there was one for me.”
Only when the Allies were leading up to D-Day did letters from the front have to stop.
“She sweated out the invasion,” said Alton. “She didn’t hear from me for 30 days.”
“That was a long time,” said Lucille.
When Alton got home, he went back to his job on the railroad, where he’d worked before the war.
“All I’ve ever done is railroad,” he said.
He worked 15 years riding freight trains, then had 25 years in management in the switch yard in Buffalo.
“At 58 they wanted to promote me to superintendent, but I would have had to travel all over, and I figured, she’s been alone enough. Money isn’t everything.” Lucille had retired from the post office in 1980, and Alton followed in 1981.
“I retired at age 60,” Alton said. “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have stayed on and worked. I just liked railroads. I don’t know why.”
The Beidecks moved to Saranac Lake to be closer to their son and his family, who lived here, and not too far from their daughter, who had settled in Saratoga Springs.
“It’s not like Batavia, which is five-and-a-half hours away,” said Lucille.
“We really like it up here, don’t we?” Alton asked her. “I don’t think we’d like a big city. We’d get lost.”
With so many years together, the Beidecks sometimes get asked for advice on marriage.
“I don’t do that,” said Alton. “Everybody’s different. What suits some people might not work for others.
“One thing, if we had a discussion today, tomorrow it was gone.”
Alton said he always let Lucille handle their finances, because if two people were trying to do one job they’d get in each other’s way.
Lucille said, “We had dedication. I think nowadays sometimes the young people think, ‘If it doesn’t work out, I’ll get a divorce.’ We never even thought about that.”
She, too, balked on giving out advice.
“Just consider each other’s feelings, I guess,” she said.