Last weekend was an extra special one for local couple Helen and Lawrence Hallgren.
The couple, who were married at the Catholic church in Burns Lake on July 21, 1962, were celebrating their 50 anniversary with family and friends at their Decker Lake home.
They first met at a Pendleton Bay dance after Lawrence had moved to the area from Alberta in 1955.
He worked for a saw milling company based at Taltapin Lake. He said the company had originated in his home town in Alberta, but had relocated its business and its employees to Burns Lake.
Helen, who was born Helen Tom, was born at Sunnyside, Babine Lake, near Smithers Landing.
“Taller O’Shea [country music Hall of Famer] and his traveling band were playing at the Pendelton Bay dance. They were fairly well know for their country and western music, so this is why I went to the dance,” Lawrence said.
Helen said she attended for the same reason.
“I was 15 and Lawrence was 16,” Helen said.
Helen thinks it was Lawrence’s hair that she first fell in love with. “He looked just like Elvis Presley with his hair … of course he doesn’t have that hair now,” she laughed.
The couple lived together for three years before they were married, which at that time, pointed out Lawrence, was something that was generally not done in those days.
“I don’t think it is any secret that our daughter Janet is 53 and we have been married for 50 years … at least we have never kept that a secret,” Lawrence smiled.
When Lawrence was 23, and Helen 22, they married.
On the wedding day, Janet was just a toddler and the task of baby sitting was given to Lawrence’s brother. According to Lawrence, during the ceremony Janet walked up to the altar and said, “Mom, dad … what are you doing?”
“That’s something we will always remember,” laughed Helen.
According to Lawrence when the couple were married he had just $7 to his name. “It was in between pay days and my sister-in-law said I had to pay the priest for the service. I had a $5 note in one pocket and a $2 note in the other … I was trying to remember which pocket had the $2 note in it. Luckily I pulled out the $2 … that was one-third of my total wealth at that time,” he said.
“Clearly she didn’t marry me for my money,” Lawrence laughed. “No, I didn’t,” Helen agreed.
“That was the good old days when you could work for 44 hours a week and on a two week payday clear $100,” Lawrence said.
The couple has lived at Decker Lake since 1966, but have moved homes four times.
“We just moved up and down the hill, but never from Decker Lake,” Helen said.
“We have lived at Decker Lake for 13 years,” Lawrence said, adding that they love it there.
They purchased the Decker Lake Trading Post in 1990. “We bought a double wide trailer that was next door to the store. We had been trying to sell our home for ages so we ended up trading it. The man that we traded it to ended up trading the house to his son the very same week for a farm. The house was then put up for sale in the newspaper. Klaus Posselt came to town, wanting to move from the Southside and purchased the house … it’s just funny that all this happened in such a short time because we had that house for sale for so long.”
Lawrence said that when the Posselt’s put the house up for sale his daughter Janet purchased it and it came back into the family.
“She [Helen] has been a good wife … I have only had to shape her up a few times,” Lawrence joked.
“He has been a very good husband and I am happy with my home. He was very slim when I met him, so I must have been a good cook over the years,” Helen said.
The couple were excited about having their family and friends arrive for their 50 anniversary party; including Lawrence’s sister-in-law Shirley.
He said his brother had since passed away but Shirley has always kept in contact with the family. The couple has five children, and 10 grandchildren and Lawrence and Helen say they are a very close knit family.
“We are hoping for some great grandchildren … but we might be hoping for a while,” Lawrence laughed,
He said they are a very close family. “They are all party animals and we appreciate that they organized our wedding anniversary party,” he said, adding that they also had a big 40 wedding anniversary party that the family organized.