and Polly Britt share memories
Versailles couple celebrates 63 Christmases
Beth Ramsey, Staff Writer
What do you get a couple for Christmas who has been married
63 years? asked Harry Nuxoll, nephew of Bert and Polly Britt
of Versailles, who have enjoyed 63 years of marriage. He wanted
to give them a gift to remember. I thought it would be great
to get their story out to the public, and to let the younger generation
know about some of the Christmases they went through during their
life together, said Nuxoll.
Bert Britt was drafted into the service in December of 1943 as
a selective volunteer, one who could choose which branch of the
service to join. Britt joined the Navy when he was unable to join
his first choice, the Air Force. He took aviation mechanics training
courses as well as aerial gunnery and radio operating training.
It was while he was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, that he wound
up being a yeoman, said Britt. His job was a captains write,
a secretary to an officer, which took him to Bermuda.
It was in Bermuda that Bert and Polly met. Polly was a WAAC, Womens
Auxiliary Army Corps, and stationed on the other end of the island.
It was December of 1944, and the naval base was going to have
a Christmas party. But, we needed girls, said Bert.
He was on the committee to find girls who would be willing to
go to the party. Bert called the Army base, located on the other
end of the island, to request permission for Polly and her companions
to attend. Polly relates, We had only been in Bermuda for
a short time, and our commanding officer felt it was too soon
for us to go.
The following February of 1945 allowed for another meeting for
Bert and Polly. The Navy was hosting a Valentines Day party.
Bert met Polly and her companions at the local store and requested
they come. Polly and her friends were permitted to come, and she
and Bert became better acquainted. We got to talking and
I guess we made a date, said Bert. They would meet to play
golf when their schedules permitted. That was just about
all you could do there, said Bert. On June 2, 1945, Bert
and Polly married. They were told by many people that the marriage
wouldnt last for many reasons: soldiers and sailors dont
mix and wartime marriages dont last. It has been 63
years, Im still waiting for it to end, laughs Bert.
Our first Christmas was in the States, said Bert.
It was after the war, and Polly was already in the States due
to a pregnancy. Bert was waiting for his discharge, but due to
his experience as a secretary, he would not be getting discharged
until January. He was to help with the paperwork for the discharge
of other soldiers.
According to Bert, About the middle of December the captain
asked if I was going home for Christmas. I told him that my discharge
was frozen, and I wouldnt be able to leave until January.
The captain decided that Bert should be home for Christmas and
arranged for him to have a 20-day delayed order to report to Bainbridge,
MA in January. Bert took the next flight out on a cargo plane
that landed in Washington DC. He then took a train to Cincinnati
where Polly was staying with her sister. After a short visit,
Bert and Polly traveled to Charleston, West Virginia to have Christmas
with Berts family. We didnt have much to give
each other, just a kiss, laughed Bert.
Our best Christmas was the Christmas of 1947, Bert
said. It was their oldest daughter, Lindas, first Christmas.
And, it was the first Christmas in their new home.
Jobs were difficult to find after the war with so many soldiers
returning home looking for work. Bert read a help wanted ad in
the paper for a position in the payroll department for the Jergens
Company. They were living upstairs with Pollys sister, due
to the difficulty in finding an apartment that would rent to someone
with children. Everyone it seemed was on that kick. We were
looking for anything, and if we found somewhere to rent, we would
be asked if we had any children. No one wanted to rent to anyone
with kids, said Bert. Bert became angry. But, around the
corner from where they were living, was a piece of ground which
he bought. It was there that he built their first home. It
was more of a shack, he laughs. It was a cedar shingled
house, built with his own tools which he still owns today, with
the exception of his hammer, which was lost a few years ago.
With the scraps left over from building his home, he made his
daughter a Hoosier-style cabinet, about three feet high, according
to Bert. That was our best Christmas, said Polly.
The most memorable Christmas for the Britts was the Christmas
of 1951 or 1952 when they lived in Columbia, South Carolina. They
had three children then, and wanted to visit Berts family
in West Virginia. So we loaded up the car, and stopped at
the store and bought a tree and all the trimmings. We walked in
the home the day before Christmas, said Bert, adding, my
dad was just like a kid that Christmas.
His brothers and their families came to visit and had dinner together.
When we have dinner, its like a party, said
Bert. A neighbor told the family, You people have more fun
at a meal than anybody Ive ever seen in my life!
The worst Christmas for the Britts was last year, when Polly had
a heart attack. It happened at 4:30 in the morning, and we called
911, said Bert. Polly was taken to Batesville and later to Indianapolis.
Their daughter, Sue McNew, Holton, was called to get her dad.
She had all her family over, said Polly, adding, it
was awful. According to Bert, that was the worst Christmas.
It had to be, nothing else could be worse.
The Britts live in Versailles and own the Country Affair store,
across from Ernies Pizza. Their daughter Sue now runs the
store. Bert and Polly started the store to help pay for their
medicine, according to nephew Harry. They have three children:
Linda Alperin, a pediatric home health nurse in Canton, Ohio;
Dan, who owns an advertising company in Hamilton, Ohio; and Carolyn
Sue McNew, of Holton. The couple has eight grandchildren, six
great-grandchildren and one on the way, said Polly
I would like for everyone to know that no matter what the
obstacles are while youre married, it can be done,
Above: Bert and Polly on their wedding
day, June 2, 1945 in Bermuda.
BETH RAMSEY PHOTO
Below: Bert and Polly still smiling
after 63 years.