‘I remember every moment I was with her’
By Meghan Cole
SPOTSWOOD, N.J.—He sat in a fairly new recliner as he slowly flipped through each black and white photo. Although the white frame, thinness and jagged edges of the photo had given away that the photos were old, Edward Cullen, 83, seemed as though the memories were just as fresh in his memory as they were 65 years ago.
“Here’s one of me and (Marge) when we were at our prom,” Cullen said. “They used to play old records and we used to slow dance the whole night—it was nothing like it is today.”
Cullen married his wife, Marge Cullen, when he was 18 and she was 21. They were together until her death nearly four years ago to colon cancer.
“This year would’ve made 65 years but boy have times changed tremendously from then to now,” said Cullen. “I remember every moment I was with her and now too many people take love and someone special for granted.”
According to Cullen, more than half of the population is ending in divorce today—which never would’ve been the case in his generation.
Cullen said it wasn’t frowned upon to marry an older woman or a woman of different race in his family, but it was frowned upon to divorce.
“The way I was raised was to find the person you loved and marry them with the promise of taking care of each other forever,” said Cullen. “Promises don’t seem to be enough anymore because more and more people are breaking them.”
Cullen said his wife was the first and last woman he dated and didn’t know how to go about asking her to go out on dates with him since she was so much older.
“I remember she used to come off of the bus and walk home—so one day when it was snowing, I threw a snowball at her to get her attention,” said Cullen. “She hollered at me and then I told her I was sorry and started walking her home everyday and that’s how we started things.”
Cullen used to be a “pin boy” at a bowling alley and he said his wife would sit in the back with him watching him pick up pins the whole time and there would be a dance every Friday they would attend together at one of the community centers in Elizabeth, N.J.
“Who would’ve known that it would lead to marriage,” said Cullen. “I married at such a young age and the love lasted 65 years—it’s really a shame more than half of marriages end in divorce today.”
According to divorcestatistics.org, the divorce rate in America for first marriages is 41 percent, for second marriages is 60 percent and for third marriages is 73 percent.
Women are also making a name for themselves in the workplace more than they were in the past, which also has an effect on marriage, said Cullen.
“As a man these days, you could easily work alongside or work under a woman,” said Cullen. “When I was in the Korean War, my wife’s workplace was back at home—keeping it nice, clean and ready for when I came back home.”
Cullen said when his wife passed away on Jan. 2, 2011, he had to learn how to cook, clean and do laundry at the age of 80.
“It was a little embarrassing to have my two sons show me how to do everything that would keep me healthy and alive,” said Cullen. “It made me appreciate and miss my wife even more than I did.”
The fact that woman have made more of a name for themselves in the workplace similar to men is a drastic change but a huge improvement, according to Cullen.
The improvement of women in the workplace has progressed almost as much as technology, said Cullen.
“When I was younger, forget about TV—there was the radio that had the few stations you were forced to listen to,” said Cullen.
As Cullen got older and moved into his first apartment with his wife, he said they purchased a small television that had dials on it, few channels and all channels were in black and white.
“Today sometimes you get over 1,000 channels and I was lucky if I got 10,” said Cullen. “It didn’t matter much because I barely watched TV.”
Cullen admitted that when he got home from the Korean War, it was always about spending that time with the love of his life.
“In this picture, I was only home for two weeks,” Cullen said as he pointed at the picture. “(My wife) was always so happy to see me and it just reassured me that I was spending my life with the right person.”
Life is constantly evolving and changing, he said, but it is up to the younger generation to determine what kind of change they want to see for their future.