Couple Learns Secret To A Long Relationship Is Caring

ROUTE 2 -- A weekly journey through Anne Arundel County

July 31, 1991|By Elise Armacost Kris Antonelli

In the living room of the Galesville home they've shared for 73 years, Nelson and Ruth Smith are talking about love, marriage and how they met. You can almost see the little sparks fly.

Nelson Smith is 93; his wife is 91. He's white-haired and still handsome. She wears her hair piled high, her long nails polished. More chemistry exists between them than between most lovestruck teen-agers.

They still take trips together. They talk together and tease one another. If he comes across a new pitcher for her pitcher collection,he buys it; if she finds a beer stein for his collection, she bringsit home.

"And I'll tell you something else," Ruth says. "We stillsleep in the same room. We still sleep in the same bed, and we say good night to each other every night."

"No sir," she says, asked ifthey ever considered separate quarters, as many older people do after so many years of marriage. "I hear other women say, 'I can't sleep in the same room with him. He snores.' I say, 'Well, he snored when you got married, didn't he? You slept with him then!' "

The Smiths grew up together in Galesville during the first decade of the century. They were classmates in the town's two-room schoolhouse, "but we didn't like each other," Ruth says. "He was so smart, and he teased thelife out of everybody and did ornery things."

Nelson chuckles butdoesn't say a word. He's enjoying this.

"He would stick his foot out and trip the little boys," Ruth says. "He'd unhitch the horse from the horse and buggy and leave the buggy behind so the poor boy was sitting there holding the reins."

After they got out of school -- they only went to the eighth grade in those days -- Ruth and Nelson worked at whatever jobs they could find. "What didn't I do?" Nelson says, who worked on a steamboat in Baltimore when he was just 14. "I didn't bootleg, but that's about it."

And girls -- he had lots of girls before he settled on Ruth.

"She was close," he says, asked what brought him back to the girl next door. "I had to go to Baltimore to see those other girls, and g--------, I got tired of going to Baltimore!"

The Smiths eloped in 1918, "more for devilment than anything," Ruth says. She remembers an aunt predicting, "I give 'em six months."

For a while, Nelson earned a living as a waterman. In the early 1920s, he founded Smith Bros. Co., a pile-driving company, and worked until he was 70. Ruth raised their three children; after they grew up, she ran Zang's Pier restaurant (now Pirate's Cove).

The Nelsons don't have a whole lot of patience with people who head for divorce court. "You've got to take and you've got to give, that's all there is to it," Ruth says. "A lot of people, when they get married, theyjust take everything for granted.

"Sometimes, with Nelson, I could kill him. . . . But one thing I've learned is don't ever go to sleep mad or aggravated. Make it up before you go to sleep."

Today, the Smiths count every day as a blessing.

Nelson still drives, stillworks in his garden. Ruth cooks dinner every night and entertains regularly. They go to Florida every winter. Two years ago, they drove with another couple to a Lion's Club convention out in Denver.

"It's in Australia this year," Nelson says. "We won't go to that. I thinkthat might be a little too much for us."


Turbo was just your average 10-month-old Doberman pinscher -- until he got shot.

Greg Nelson, his owner, had accidentally left the backyard gate open July 18, and Turbo wandered out and down the street.

Animal shootings are somewhat uncommon in these parts. As a police reporter, I'm more likely to write about people shooting each other.

But every once in a while, browsing through the police incident reports every morning, you come across the reports of animal shootings.Dog-bite stories or anything involving hogs usually draw a few laughs.

But the owners of pets and livestock don't see the humor in thesuffering of their animals.

Turbo apparently posed a threat to Robert Keith Graham, 31, of the 900 Jennies Court. Graham was charged with cruelty to animals, police reports said.

According to chargingdocuments, Graham said a neighbor called him and told him there was a loose Doberman in the trailer park where he lived. When Graham wentoutside, Turbo walked up and Graham shot him.

Turbo's lung was punctured, Nelson said, and the dog is being given medication for the pain.

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