GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - After 73 years of marriage, Lorraine and Harold Sheader, both 91, are among the longest-married couples in Colorado.
"When I met her, she had moved to south Denver. Before we knew it, we went and got married," Harold said.
The marriage endured even though the wedding got off to a bad start. Friends had "kidnapped" Harold, making him late to his own wedding in Longmont. His friends had threatened to roll the couple down Main Street in a wheelbarrow. The young couple married on a Thursday, and went to work on that following Monday. There was no money for a honeymoon trip.
They met the old-fashioned way - a friend introduced them to each other when they were both 17. After a year's courtship, the couple were married, Nov. 30, 1940, two weeks after Lorraine's 18th birthday.
"I'm the only girl he ever dated," Lorraine said. "I never knew that until two or three years ago."
Asked if she had had boyfriends, Lorraine giggled, "Oh, yeah."
Without missing a beat, Harold responded, "I knew about it, but I won."
"One thing that struck me about him, he had strong morals. He was just a good guy," Lorraine said.
Lorraine grew up in Longmont; Harold in Lafayette. Both struck out on their own at an early age.
Lorraine's stepfather had forced her to quit school when she was in the 10th grade because he didn't think women needed an education, Lorraine said.
"I cried for three days," she said. "I liked school. I was a good student."
So, at 15, Lorraine moved from Longmont to Denver with 50 cents in her pocket, determined to find a job. She first worked as a housekeeper, nanny and cook for a well-to-do family, before landing a job at Montgomery Ward department store.
Harold also left school - in eighth grade - and hitchhiked to Boulder where, although under age, he talked his way into a job with the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Harold drove a truck for the CCC, a program founded during the Great Depression to provide manual labor jobs to unemployed men in conservation and development of natural resources.
During the time he worked for the CCC, Harold was forced to send his earnings home to his father - "I never saw a dime," Harold said.
That changed after he married and landed a job with Gates Rubber Company where he worked for 11 years, which allowed the couple to lease a "nice apartment" and get a car. His father wanted to control the young couple's money, but they stood up to him and said, "no."
"I don't know how we didn't split because of his darn parents," Lorraine said.
After a couple of years, Lorraine gave birth to Denny, and then 18 years later another son, Joseph, was born.
"I just got Denny through high school and started all over again," she said.
Going fishing was a typical family weekend activity while living in Denver.
"I wasn't all that fond of fishing, but I didn't want to be a weekend widow," Lorraine said.
Harold eventually went to work for Coors Brewing Company, and Lorraine began selling real estate at age 55.
"There were times that were difficult, but you and I stuck together in spite of it," Lorraine said, looking at her husband.
"Perseverance, having respect for one another, always listening" - those are the secrets to a long marriage, she said.
The couple moved to Grand Junction 30-some years ago "to get out of the rat race of Denver."
The Sheaders have two sons, seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.