Down the Lane: Everyone has a story

It seems I am at the doctor’s office a lot anymore and this week was yet another doctor visit, and I am not one who can just sit and do nothing while waiting to be seen by the doctor.

Usually, I like to read and I have been guilty of catching up on Facebook like so many other people do.

This week was different for me, though. I began a conversation with some very nice ladies. They seemed to be older than me and since I have grown up around Winchester and gone to school here, I felt pretty sure I had never met either of these two women before.

There was a lady there with her husband who was actually on her way to another appointment after she left Dr. Ott’s office.

While she and her husband were waiting on their ride, we struck up a conversation. I learned she and her husband will soon be married for 68 years on April 15. This fact alone intrigued me.

Not recognizing them, I had to ask if they were from Winchester.

The beautiful couple I am writing about are John and Joyce Ballard. Joyce told me she was born in Winchester and spent her elementary years at the old Hickman School.

It was there where she and her best friends, Mary Jo Mahan and Jane Venable, used to jump rope. She often jumped roped with two other friends, Martha Coleman (now deceased) and Irene Herman.

Their jumping carried over into Saturdays. She told me she could not understand why on Saturdays Irene Herman was not allowed to play with them because she went to synagogue. She did not understand what the word synagogue meant back then or the fact she could not play with them on Saturdays.

She told me she used to worry about her. I knew Joyce had to be a very caring person even as a young child.

John’s life changed pretty drastically when he was 6 years old. He began school at Hickman Elementary also but his father passed away soon after.

His mother decided to move back to Paris. It would be years later before John and Joyce would see one another again.

Joyce went to high school at the old Winchester High School.

It was during a basketball game where Joyce and Mary Jo were cheerleading that Joyce caught John’s eye and their romance began.

After they both graduated high school they saw more of one another.

John would come to Winchester quite often to go to Boonesboro Beach. She told me once they rode across the river in a boat that had a leak in it and they had to bail water out all the way across the river. We both laughed and wondered how young people ever make it to adulthood when we look back at the crazy things we did.

While Joyce was a student at the University of Kentucky majoring in music, John would show up at her practice room while she was practicing.

She and John fell deeply in love and were married at the First United Methodist Church in Winchester. They were only 19 years old when they said their wedding vows.

“We were just kids,” she said.

We discussed how back then by the time you graduated from high school it was almost expected of you to get married.

Her secret and most important thing for the 68 years of marriage is to still be in love with one another. Be nice to one another and to keep peace within the home. Her children told her they grew up in a peaceful home, she said.

John was an Eagle Scout, and was always proud of that. Some of the Scout motto is to be trustworthy, honest and reverent. She said he has lived his life by the Boy Scout motto.

John joined the Air Force, where they would travel often and lived in San Antonio, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Panama City and Orlando, Florida.

They had two beautiful daughters who gave them two grandchildren each.

Their love for Kentucky always remained in their hearts throughout their marriage and it would bring them back home to Winchester.

They came back to Kentucky where John went back to UK and w he graduated two and one-half years. That was amazing to me.

There were so many things that reminded how life comes full circle at times.

I did my interview with this couple at Rose Mary C. Brooks place where they are living. Joyce’s childhood friend, Mary Jo Mahan, is also a resident there. Dorothy Brooks, who was the chaperone for the ladies, was kin to Rose Mary C. Brooks.

Though John and Joyce met in the first grade it was not meant for them to be close until later in life. It’s amazing how life works.

One of the first things I noticed about this couple was how attractive they were. From what I have learned from the other residents, they have always been so cute and neat looking together.

Sixty-eight years of married life has not changed that I can tell. I wish them the very best.

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.