Charlie and Annie Muise still live together in their Yarmouth County home and will celebrate their 80th wedding anniversary in 2022
TINA COMEAU TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD email@example.com
Separated by a world war in their first years of marriage, Charlie and Annie Muise of Yarmouth County have spent a very long time together ever since. The numbers really add up. He turned 100 years old this past August. She turns 100 years old on Jan. 13. They still live together in the home they purchased 75 years ago and will celebrate 80 years of marriage in 2022. The first time Charlie and Annie met was at a dance. He had seen her before but had never spoken to her. This time he wouldn't let the opportunity pass by. Annie is happy he didn't, saying, when she saw him, “I thought he was it!” They started dating. Later in Halifax on guard duty (by now Charlie was in the service, the Second World War had begun), he remembers one day being approached by someone telling him he had a visitor. “I couldn't figure out who wanted to see me. When I came out, I was so surprised." It was Annie. “I knew I was going overseas soon, but we were told not to mention a word about that,” he says. “But I sort of hinted that I was going to leave. We had quite a long talk. I don't know just how it happened, but that's when we decided to tie the knot.” They married that July. Three months later, Charlie was shipped overseas. He was gone for three years and three months. The newlyweds wrote letters, with Charlie writing to his bride almost every week. Several months after the war ended, he arrived back in Nova Scotia on New Year's Day in 1946. Annie made the trek to Pier 21 in Halifax to welcome her husband back. He didn't know she'd be there. She didn't know if she'd recognize him. Charlie says when they arrived, they could hear the playing of O Canada. Some of the soldiers kissed the ground as they came off the ship. They were boarded onto trucks and brought to a big building filled with people waiting to welcome them. Annie recalls people were lined up from A to Z to greet the soldiers. With their last name being Muise, she anxiously waited for her turn in the alphabet to greet her husband. THEIR LIFE TOGETHER In Tusket, Yarmouth County, they first rented a home, paying $10 a month in rent. After saving money, they were able to purchase a home nearby for $2,000. They still live here together. It's been home for 75 years. Asked if they still went to dances, Annie jokes there was no time. “I started having children,” she says. The couple had eight children over 15 years – five girls and three boys named Ron, Andrea, Nancy, Diane, Kathleen, Elaine, Cleve and Brian. Today, their children range in age from 60 to 75. They also have 17 grandchildren and around 25 great-grandchildren. When she eventually started working again outside the home, Annie had a job at Braemar Lodge in Yarmouth County, a resort situated on Ellenwood Lake. Charlie's resumé is lengthy. He worked for nine years at the cotton mill in Yarmouth. He worked one or two summers at Camp Aldershot. He says he spent many years at a 7 Up plant in Yarmouth. When that operation moved to Weymouth to bottle Pepsi products, he turned to a job in construction. His last job was with the department of highways until his retirement. During their working careers, the wages were small but enough to get by. Early on, Annie remembers saving the $50 a month she was being paid to go towards the purchase of their home. In lifespans that cover 100 years, the couple has witnessed a lot of changes. Asked what excited them most, for Annie it was the introduction of the television. “It was hard to believe,” she says. “When it happened, it was something else.” For Charlie – who had grown up in Hubbards Point, Yarmouth County, where there were maybe two or three cars – he remembers being in Ottawa on basic training after enlisting in the army for a course called driver maintenance. He was 19. “It was really exciting,” he says. “I learned all about cars and motors and what made them run and all kinds of things.” Incidentally, the first car the couple bought was a Model T Ford. A HAPPY FAMILY The couple is very much adored by their family. Their granddaughter Amber Horton says for the past nine years she's spent nearly every Sunday at their house after church. “I wouldn't trade it for the world – the stories and the fact that they remember things so vividly,” she says. “I've had conversations with grandmere: tell me about when you were going to work. Tell me about when grandpere came home.” She expresses amazement when describing a day when her grandmother asked her if she wanted some rhubarb from her garden. “This 98-year-old woman comes out of the house and walks down there as if she was in her 20s. She's pulling this rhubarb out of the ground like it was nothing,” she says. Her mother, Elaine Muise – one of Charlie and Annie's eight children – says her parents worked very hard while raising their family. She thinks of the days her mother would trudge outside to bring in the laundry, often in the cold weather with the jeans frozen stiff. She also made a lot of clothes for her kids. “And with the girls, she always did our hair. We had bows and barrettes and we were always dressed cute,” she says. “They were good to us and they taught us our prayers. Whenever there was a thunderstorm, we'd all get up to do the rosary.” Her brother, Cleve, says while the family may not have had a lot of wealth, they were rich in many ways. “I think the main memory for me isn't specifics. It's a generalized memory of stability and security. I think all eight children would say that same thing. There wasn't a lot of material wealth, but we all knew that we were secure and well taken care of and loved,” he says. He adds that he doesn't see his parents as old, but instead sees others as young because of his parents' longevity. “The thing about having 100-year-old parents, and this happens to me on a regular basis, I'm out in the community talking to people. Somebody will have died at 84, 85 and I'll say, ‘Too bad they had to die so young.'” Annie still knits – her fingers are nimble and arthritisfree. Charlie, his family says, can still be heard singing and humming. Neither have any serious health issues. And they don't just celebrate the fact they have had a long life together, they're also appreciative that their minds continue to serve them well. “I'm very glad that we have what we have, as far as our memories go,” Charlie says. After all, with 200 years between them, there is lots to remember.