Although it’s been 60 years since they married, Marie Barnec clearly remembers her first date with husband Dan.
They went to a movie called “The Thing” at the Stettler theatre. It’s still rated as one of the top horror movies of all time, she said.
“There was a lot of hand-holding going on,” Marie said with a chuckle.
Dan and Marie were married at Marie’s parents’ home in Botha on July 25, 1953.
“We hung wallpaper, cleaned stovepipes and did a lot of building of the house — together — and stayed married,” she said.
Sweethearts for more than 60 years, the Barnecs celebrate their 60th anniversary this Valentine’s Day. They plan to formally mark the event later this year.
They both grew up at Botha. Marie Cruickshank was raised in the village where her father was a longtime grain buyer, and Dan grew up on a nearby farm.
Dan went away to work on a seismic crew and the couple never got to know each other well until Marie’s sister, who was married to a co-worker on Dan’s seismic crew, got them together.
The couple’s first home was a 29-foot single-axle holiday trailer.
The newlyweds set it up at Acme, where Dan was employed with seismic work. His job later had them move to a variety of locations.
By 1957, they had two children and still lived in the trailer.
In the winter months, Dan worked in “bush camps” in the north.
“The kids cried when he left and they cried when he came back, because they didn’t know him,” Marie said.
The couple decided in 1957 that a move back to Botha to farm would be best. They rented some land and traded the trailer for a John Deere tractor.
The Botha farm seemed to be a good fit for the family.
The Barnecs raised six daughters — Connie, Janie, Marla, Karen, Shelly and Holly.
“It was a great place to raise kids,” Marie reminisced.
“I would not have done anything differently,” Dan agreed.
The couple worked together “side by side” as they operated their farm.
Dan recalled that at harvest time, they decided Marie would haul the grain and he would run the combine.
That is, until Marie nearly backed over the grain auger. Dan decided he should haul the grain and Marie would combine.
“After that, she did all the combining — and did a good job,” Dan said.
The couple were active volunteers in the Botha community. Both were 4-H leaders — Dan with the beef club and Marie with the sewing club.
They were involved with curling, church activities and in later years, the seniors’ club.
“We had good neighbours,” Dan recalled. “Everybody helped each other.”
He said that back in those years, no one worked on Sunday — after church was a time to visit, play ball or take the family to the lake.
Dan and Marie chose to retire on their farm.
The Barnecs have a longstanding morning ritual. Each morning after breakfast, as they have a second cup of coffee, they play Maui — a rummy-like card game. The winner gets to be “boss” for the day.
Dan still keeps a few horses and Marie enjoys keeping in touch with family and friends on the computer.
They said they enjoy getting together with their friends for coffee at the P&H elevator in Stettler on Thursdays and in Botha on Wednesdays.
Marie said their daughter and son-in-law, Janie and Stephen Rock, who live on the same farmyard, now help them out a lot.
The Barnecs have enjoyed extensive travel together and usually spend the winters in Arizona.
They have also been to Australia, New Zealand and on cruises.
The couple has 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
“We used to follow our grandkids in sports and now we are following our great-grandkids,” Dan said.
Marie said they’re happy all six of their girls and their families live in Alberta, which makes visiting easier.