After 73 years together, Mitchell couple says 'We love each other'Arvid and Versal Brown first met in 1938. “It was 1939,” Versal began. “1938,” Arvid said, correcting her. She continued.
By: Frannie Sprouls, The Daily Republic
Arvid and Versal Brown first met in 1938. “It was 1939,” Versal began. “1938,” Arvid said, correcting her. She continued.
“I came to Mitchell to be a beauty operator.” She had lived many places, graduating from Ethan High School. Versal came to Mitchell because she couldn’t find a job.
“My sister was going through the same (beauty) school,” Arvid said. “And she brought (Versal) home. And I thought, if my sister brought another one home, I’m leaving.”
In 1939, they married and have been together since. Today, they are celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary.
“When they ask me how old I was when I got married, I tell them I was old enough to know better,” Arvid said. “Did it anyhow.”
He was 19 and she was 26. He was drafted in the spring of 1944, leaving Versal home with two sons, Vern and Gerry. He returned in February 1946. “It was nice to come home from being in the war,” he said. “She was there waiting for me.”
Arvid turned to face Versal as he recalled his homecoming.
“When I was discharged, it was too cold for you to come to the train to pick me up,” he said. “You sent the taxi.”
They had two more children after Arvid returned: William and Martha Jane. Versal worked as a beautician and Arvid in the auto wholesale parts industry. At one time, Versal was the oldest person in South Dakota to have a beautician’s license. Arvid spent seven years at Dick’s Body Shop as the office manager.
They retired within a year of each other: Versal in 1982 and Arvid in 1983. But for the next 30 years, the pair traveled throughout the country to craft sales. Most of the sales were in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota.
“We had one in Idaho,” Arvid said. “But we didn’t like that.”
Arvid made wood toys to sell and Versal did woodwork, crocheted, knitted and made jelly and pies. One year, Versal made more than 50 sweaters to sell. But after she had surgery in 2005, the pair stopped going to craft sales.
“It was a lot of fun, but it was a lot of work,” Versal said. “A lot of people,” Arvid said. “We met a lot of people.”
In September 2008, the Browns moved out of their home and to Meadowlawn Plaza. “It wasn’t our idea,” Arvid said. “One of the kids got a wild hair and said we didn’t want a place to keep track of ourselves.”
They built their house in the early 1950s, moving in on Memorial Day in 1953. On the land sits three buildings and the eight-room house. Their big project now sits empty. To keep busy at Meadowlawn, Versal sews. She’s made more than 100 lap robes for people at the Avera Brady nursing home. Versal also sews doll dresses.
“I’ve got to do something,” she said. “I never could and never will be able to sit down and do nothing.”
Arvid said he goes out and “piddles around” Meadowlawn. In the afternoons, he goes out for coffee.
“I do quite a bit of reading,” he said. “I like to read westerns, but there aren’t many of them left.”
In the 73 years they’ve been married, neither can recall any arguments or fighting. If they don’t agree on something, they talk it out.
“It’s a discussion because it’s just something we did,” Versal said. “It was something we decide we were supposed to do.”
Arvid’s biggest piece of advice is not to make any major decisions before talking it over.
“Don’t do it alone,” he said. “There’s two of you involved.”
When he was in the Army, Versal would write to him to ask him about buying a house. He would write back, telling her to go ahead and buy the house. But by then it was too late — the house she wanted was already sold.
“So it didn’t work,” Versal said with a small laugh. “But we made up with a bigger house than you were going to buy,” he added with a laugh. Together, the Browns have lived long lives. She is 99 and he is 92. The secret to their long marriage, they said, is no secret. “We love each other,” Arvid said. “I think that’s about it.”