GORHAM — And they say wartime romances don’t last.

Oland and Violet Morton defied that cliche in a big way, marking their 70th wedding anniversary Saturday with their four children, 12 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. The party was held at the Old Robie School, now a community center but their elementary school when the Mortons were younger.

The couple – she’s 89 and he’s 88 – married when Oland Morton was on leave from the Navy. He had been an armed guard on a merchant ship that headed to England, Belgium and France just after the war in Europe had ended. Then, while he was on leave after returning to Maine in June 1945, the couple married, two days before Oland was ordered to Virginia for training and then to Washington state, where he was assigned to a destroyer.

Oland worked as a farmer initially, helping to grow potatoes on a farm in the Gorham neighborhood where he grew up, which was called “Gag Corner.”

The name came from when there was a stagecoach stop at the site for travelers going between Portland and Sebago Lake, said Dennis Morton, the couple’s son. It was what we would now call a bar, Dennis Morton said, “and you know what happens when you drink too much.”

Oland Morton said he knew Violet from when the two were children.

“I would go over and pick peas at her father’s house,” he said, and then the two started dating in high school.

After the war and a few years of farming, he went to work for what was then called S.D. Warren and is now the Sappi Paper mill, retiring when he was 59.

The couple then bought a trailer and traveled, crossing the country twice, their daughter, Tammy Franco, said. More recently, they’ve stayed closer to their Gorham home, which they built in 1947, because Violet has had some health problems.

“Of course, we’ve remodeled four or five times, when she wanted something different,” Oland said, referring to his wife.

Oland said there aren’t really any secrets to staying married for seven decades, but it does require a certain amount of emotional flexibility.

“You’ve got to give in once in a while,” he said. “Besides, she’s most usually right.”

 

This story was updated at 4:35 p.m. June 29, 2015 to correct the first name and age of Oland Morton.