EL PASO — In a tidy house on a hill in El Paso, one married couple is about to observe a milestone many never get to see.
Hicks and Pauline Blasingame will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary Wednesday. The couple live a simple life on the land that used to hold Hicks’ cattle. They go to Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock every week and spend time in the garden when the weather permits.
“It’s been a super marriage,” Pauline said of the past 70 years.
The couple met in December 1942 while Hicks was stationed in New Mexico with the Army Air Corps.
“We were always out prowling when we got off base,” he said.
It was at a USO dance that Hicks and Pauline first met, but Hicks said that in the following months, it was “a happenstance when we got together.”
They only went on one date, and it was Pauline who did the asking. She invited Hicks over for Thanksgiving in 1943. It was a 50-mile journey for Hicks, but when the snow started falling, he did not stop. He was able to hitchhike 15 miles of the trip, but had to walk the rest in the snow.
“He looked like a snowball when he got there,” Pauline said.
“I told her, ‘Don’t you ever ask me for another date,’” Hicks said.
And that was their one-and-only date.
The couple got married in April 1944 in an Army chapel in Dalhart, Texas. It was Easter weekend, and the only time the chapel was available for a wedding was 7 a.m. The wedding party was small, and the group barely had time for breakfast before the ceremony, but none of that mattered.
“If you’re determined to make it work, it doesn’t matter what’s the size of your wedding party,” Pauline said.
Soon after that, Hicks was transferred out to the Philippines. The United States was in the throes of World War II, and Hicks was sent to the Pacific arena for wartime duty.
After he returned, the couple spent several years in Texas until Hicks started the process to move his family home to El Paso, Ark., in 1971. He started raising Charolais cattle and built the house he and Pauline still live in today. In 1975, Pauline joined him and began life as an Arkansan.
“I’ve said I want this to be my last home until heaven,” Pauline said, looking over the couple’s land.
When it comes to being married for 70 years, the Blasingames’ advice can be summed up in one word: acceptance.
“I’m an individual, and you’re an individual,” Hicks said. “Don’t try to change me, and I won’t try to change you.”
“I wouldn’t want to change you,” Pauline said, with an adoring glance at her husband. “You’re the man I fell in love with. Why would I want to change that?”
The two agree they have been blessed. With one daughter and two grandsons, they have hosted family — both immediate and extended — on their land for summer vacations and family reunions. Their home in El Paso has been a refuge and a welcome center for friends and family.
After 70 years, the Blasingames reflect on their lives with fondness.
“It’s just been a wonderful, wonderful marriage,” Pauline said with a smile.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.