FORTVILLE — George Hendrix and then Bonnie Ann Kroeckel of Fortville met in high school by virtue of an alphabetic seating plan in school.
“We were sitting almost together,” Bonnie Ann said recalling the moment.
“I was so bashful, and she used to tease me all the time,” George said.
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That was more than 70 years ago, and the couple sat down recently — weeks after celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary with family — to talk about how they met and how they made their marriage work for more than seven decades.
After meeting in their sophomore year at then Fortville High School, they got to know each other during frequent outings with groups of friends, doing things such as roller-skating; it was wartime, money was tight, and goods — such as gasoline — were scarce or rationed.
They graduated together in 1945, and he went off to serve in the U.S. Navy, and she went to Indiana University Bloomington. When he returned from the service about a year later, they got married.
“When he came home, I think that’s when we got more serious,” Bonnie Ann said.
He proposed to her in front of the old Carnegie Library on Main Street while sitting in the front seat of his step-dad’s ‘36 Chevy.
In the early years, they both worked at the movie theater in town — he ran the projector and she sold tickets — and they didn’t own a car.
George Hendrix bought a house before they were married on the G.I. Bill, paying $2,600 for it with a monthly mortgage of $27 per month.
“We didn’t know whether we could make it or not,” George said.
“But we did,” Bonnie Ann said.
They celebrated their honeymoon in Indianapolis with dinner at The Tee-Pee drive-in restaurant, where the Indiana State Fairgrounds is today, and stayed the night at the Severin Hotel.
They went on to live their lives in Fortville, having one son; they now have four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
George had a successful career as an insurance salesman and sales manager, retiring in 1985; they traveled around the country and the world together, and are looking forward to the next milestone.
“We’re going for 75,” Bonnie Ann said.
Here are a few questions and answers the Hendrixes, now both 89, gave about their marriage:
Q — What were the qualities in him that attracted you?
Bonnie Ann — “We liked the same things. He was ambitious, too. We knew we had to do our own thing, I mean, we had to make our own way. … The family all like him.”
George — It seems like we double-dated with other friends, and I think we got real acquainted and liked her real well. So, that’s the reason I decided to marry her, because she was the girl of my life. And we had good times together. So I think I enjoyed her so much that I wanted to marry her. And I still do.”
Q — What do you think some of the keys are to a successful marriage?
Bonnie Ann — Well, you have to have respect. You have to be patient, and faith. We’ve gone to church, we’ve done a lot of volunteer work. I have a thing in there, where the town gave me for my work, and a letter. You have to care. You have to care.
George — We did a lot of things together; we’ve traveled together and been together so much. I think, too, our grandchildren, and our son, too. He kind of looks after us. We’ve just done stuff together through thick and thin. I tell you, 70 years has gone fast. I mean, She had her stroke, and we stuck together; I had a heart problem; we stuck together during sickness (Editor’s note: They both were successfully treated for cancer, as well.)
Q — Do you think marriage is easier or harder than it was back in the day?
Bonnie Ann — I think it’s easier, really. We just didn’t think of divorce. If there was a problem, you worked through it.
George — I thought it was pretty easy.
Q — Do you have any advice for people getting married today to have a good life, such as you’ve had?
George — The only advice I have is for it to be forever.
Bonnie Ann — I guess that’s it. That that’s the way it’s going to be.
George — They should work out their problems.
Bonnie Ann — Give it enough time and it’ll work out.