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Couple Who Grew Up Next Door To Each Other Celebrate 70th Anniversary

Though they attended the same primary school, the couple's childhood in the tenement flats in Scotland was remarkably dissimilar.

A couple who grew up next door to each other celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Marion Harris, 89, and her husband Dan, 91, wed on March 4, 1953, in a quick registry office ceremony with only two witnesses.

The couple grew up in tenement flats on Garscube Road, Glasgow, Scotland, and their childhoods were very different, although they went to the same primary school.

Dan was “spoiled rotten” by his family after his mom had him aged just 17 – while Marion was bereaved aged 11 when her mother died. Tasks like cleaning the communal areas in the building fell to her and she left school three years later.

Dad-of-two Dan can still remember the first time he saw his future wife, when he was aged about five, and saw a toddler clutching the hand of her older sister as they climbed the stairs together.

Marion and Dan Harris on their wedding day in 1953. They recently celebrated their 70th anniversary. DAN HARRIS/SWNS

Dan became a celebrity when he came back from Canada aged 13 with an accent and was nicknamed ‘the Big Yank.’ He recalls noticing a mournful 11-year-old before being told Marion’s mom had died weeks earlier.

He first attempted to date his wife’s older sister, Susan, who was 14 and worked in a factory but was hotly refuted when he tried to ask her out again, and she blew smoke in his face.

In 1948 when Dan, 17, asked out Marion, then about to turn 16, she wasn’t ebullient but conceded she would go to the movies with him.

Four years later they got hitched with just two witnesses and a house party, as Dan was on leave from National Service in West Germany.

The main reason for his proposal was that Marion would get a £2 ($2.46 USD) marriage allowance in addition to her £2 wages – which she branded, “the most romantic proposal a girl had ever received.”

Marion and Dan Harris with their kids.1950/60s. DAN HARRIS/SWNS

On their wedding day Marion’s colleagues from the factory where she had worked since leaving school at 14, gathered on the street outside the tenement to celebrate, while Dan tossed coins for the kids to catch.

Their first home was a one-room apartment with an outdoor toilet, also in Maryhill, before upgrading to a two-room with an indoor toilet. They settled in 1959 in a house in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, where Dan still lives.

Marion, who has dementia, has been in a care home for two years, and the couple has three grandchildren.

Dan said the secret to a happy marriage was “chemistry,” and said longevity did not necessarily mean puppy love forever.

He said: “I think it’s just chemistry between you and as you go through life.

“It’s possible that because of our childhood, we know each other inside out.

“My earliest memory of Marion, I would probably have been about five.

“I was going up the stairs to knock on the door with one of my pals, and two wee girls were coming down the stairs.

“The youngest one had to hold her sister’s hand, she would have been about three.

“She has no memory of me at all, in those days little boys and little girls didn’t play together.

“When I came back from Canada aged 13, she had a sister who was a year older than me.

“She was a lovely-looking girl, thinking back I was a bit of a celebrity because of my accent.

“I asked Marion’s big sister out to the movies and said ‘do you fancy going out on Saturday night?’

“She said ‘no way, you’re just a wee schoolboy son, I’m a working woman. Not only am I a working woman but I smoke.’

“She took a puff of smoke and blew the smoke in my face.

“I got the better of the two sisters.”

Due to the war both Marion and Dan had a disrupted education and left school with no qualifications.

Marion and Dan in their late teens. DAN HARRIS/SWNS

Dan said the area they lived in was working class but the homes weren’t slums, saying some were “little palaces” inside.

On their wedding day, Marion wore a grey tweed suit, which was the fashion at the time, but her “sensational” eyelashes had been damaged by a factory accident a couple of years earlier.

Dan said he regretted that they didn’t have color photographs of their wedding day, to capture his wife’s glowing auburn hair.

He said: “It was fate, it just happened that we were born in the same tenement.

“When we got to about 14 or 15 some of the families would have birthday parties, and a couple of them were pals with Marion.

“That’s when I first got interested in her.

“I thought ‘Marion has blossomed, she’s getting like her older sister Susan.

“When I asked her out, it was sort of like ‘Oh well, we’ll go with you.’

“I think it was because we had sort of grown up together.”

The couple shared an interest in dancing, ice skating, tennis, table tennis, and golf, as well as walking.

Dan went to night school and finished his career as a headteacher at a college, while Marion worked in shops before volunteering for charities and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

He added: “Like everybody else, we had ups and downs, but more ups than downs.

“All married couples will have their differences, it is not a case that every day you are holding hands and saying ‘I love you’.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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