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John and Alzada Turnbull, Everett Turnbull's grandparents, were recognized in the Dec. 13, 1935, newspaper for celebrating their 63rd anniversary.

A unique anniversary: On Dec. 3, Everett and Betty Turnbull celebrated 63 years of marriage, just as his grandparents did long ago

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On Dec. 3, Everett and Betty Turnbull celebrated 63 years of marriage. They didn't make much of the day; they only planned a dinner out with their son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons.

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The Turnbulls met in 1949 in Minneapolis. Everett lived in Hastings and Betty lived in Brainerd, but both ended up at a weekly dance, where they first got to know each other. They enjoyed being in each other's company, and the dancing went well, also.

"We seemed to dance good together," Everett recalled.

On Jan. 3, 1949, the two started going together, Betty said. On Dec. 3, 1949, they were married. Betty moved to Hastings with Everett and they've been here ever since.

There was no particular reason why the couple chose Dec. 3, other than the fact it was a date that worked and it was close to Everett's brother's wedding as well, so they could celebrate together.

Years later, they were sent a newspaper article from December, 1935, that told about another couple's anniversary. The couple was John and Alzada Turnbull, Everett's grandparents, and they were celebrating their 63rd anniversary that year on Dec. 3.

"We were in awe of it," Everett said.

"We were just surprised to find out we were married on the same date," Betty said.

Everett has several memories of his grandparents, but he never knew when they had gotten married.

John and Alzada

John Turnbull came to Hastings in 1865 from Galena, Ill., on a doctor's order. Doctors at the time told him he had a weak heart and lungs, and that he was in danger of consumption - what we now call tuberculosis. The advice was to move northwest to a different climate, so John boarded a boat and moved to Hastings. He was 17 years old.

Evidently, Hastings made a significant impact on the young Turnbull. In letters he told his parents and siblings about Hastings in such a convincing way that the rest of his family moved here just a few months after he did. The family has lived in Hastings ever since then.

Everett has good memories of his grandparents.

"I remember being with them was so much fun," he said.

John had a workshop below his house on West Third Street, and the two would go down together and make things together. One of John's favorite pastimes was woodworking.

Everett also remembers hearing the stories of John's father and brothers, who fought in the Civil War. One particular memory involves a Model A car. Everett gave his grandfather a ride in the car, and he remembers looking over to see John grasping at whatever he could to hold on, while his beard was flying in the wind.

Alzada grew up in Cottage Grove and lived there until she married John. She was described as quiet and sincere, friendly and a woman people could count on to do her part.

John and Alzada were married Dec. 3, 1872. They celebrated 65 years of marriage in 1937, just a few months before Alzada's death. In her obituary, John and Alzada were considered "the oldest married couple in Minnesota."

Everett and Betty

Everett and Betty met at a dance, and they've been dancing ever since. There was a short hiatus from the dance floor in the 1950s. Everett and Betty don't smoke, but many people who would go to the dance halls did. But in the late 1950s, they were introduced to folk dancing. They started taking lessons at the International Institute, and that began a 40-year association.

Everett and Betty have danced several styles of folk dance, including Danish, Swedish, German, Serbian, Croatian and Bulgarian.

"There weren't too many groups we didn't try out," Betty said.

Although they never competed, they did perform in several event, including a few overseas.

"There's so many pleasant memories that come out of it," Everett said. "I don't think we have any bad memories."

Everett and Betty hung up their dancing shoes in mid-October, as Betty's feet are hurting more and Everett's hearing isn't as good anymore. Now they have a new hobby: gardening.

Everett said his mother had a green thumb, but he could never grow anything. It wasn't until a friend of his suggested he try raising dahlias. The first year he did so, he won two blue ribbons and one red ribbon at the state fair. These days, flower beds cover the Turnbulls' yard. It takes Everett an hour just to water them all, he said.

For their 63rd anniversary, Everett and Betty didn't plan anything elaborate. They just got together with their one son and his family for dinner. With 63 years already behind them, though, they've had a few parties. The couple has celebrated on a larger scale for their 25th, 35th, 40th, 45th, 50th and 60th anniversaries.

"All of them included dancing," Betty said.

Everett and Betty have three children. Marie lives in New York and has a daughter, Christana. Patric is in San Diego, Calif. Donald and his wife Barbara, with their two sons James and John, live in Hastings.

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Katrina Styx
Katrina Styx has been a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette since 2010. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Prior to coming to Hastings, Katrina reported for weekly newspapers in Jordan, Minn., and River Falls, Wis.
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