McCune couple now together for 68 years

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Posted: Saturday, February 14, 2009 1:04 am

Nikki Patrick

The (Pittsburg) Morning Sun

MCCUNE (AP) — When Paul Huff started courting pretty Margaret Bowin, the two could have a nice evening out for $1.

“When I’d go to see her, I’d have a $1 bill in my pocket,” said Huff, McCune, who will be 92 in July. “I’d buy three gallons of gas at 10 cents a gallon and we’d drive to Pittsburg to see a movie at the Colonial Theater. The show was 15 cents a person. After the show, there was enough money left to buy a malt.”

Times and prices have changed since then, but the couple’s love and devotion remains strong after 68 years of marriage.

Margaret Huff, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, was born in Roseland and grew up in the West Mineral area. The late Page Cavanaugh, who went on to become a famous jazz pianist, was one of her school mates.

“We had no school lunches then, and brought our lunch from home,” she said. “Page would sit at the school piano and play for us all during the noon hour.”

She also had two teachers who went on to fame — legendary Pittsburg State University football coach Carnie Smith and longtime U.S. Rep. Joe Skubitz.

Margaret Huff played volleyball in school, and that’s where her future husband, whose sister attended the same school, spotted her.

“I’d watch the volleyball games and I picked her out,” he said. “She was pretty good looking.”

After graduating from high school in 1936, Margaret Huff taught school for five years.

“I taught at Roseland, Carona and Mackie Camp,” she said. “They were all in District 70.” She and Huff married on Sept. 7, 1940. In those days, a woman could not be married and teach school, so the couple eloped and did not announce their marriage for several months.

“Some of the family knew,” Margaret Huff said. Huff’s family settled early in the area.

“My mom came out here in 1881, and my father in 1879,” he said. “Then my grandfather decided he didn’t like Kansas and went back to Illinois.”

However, his father rode the train back to Kansas to visit his cousins, and met his future wife on one of those trips.

“They wrote back and forth from Kansas to Illinois for about 10 years,” Huff said. “Then my mother got tired of waiting and asked him what his intentions were, so he proposed.”

He said his parents lived in Illinois for a time, until his grandfather decided to retire and move into town. He offered them the family farm, and they returned to Kansas.

“I grew up two miles west and 1 3/4 miles north of Mineral,” Huff said.

He began farming with his father. Always good with motors, Huff was able to keep his tractors going, even during World War II when parts were hard to obtain.

Over the years he has received numerous agriculture honors.

“He was practicing soil conservation from the beginning,” said Sharon Leonard, one of the couple’s three children. “He would figure out how the water ran, and how to keep the soil from eroding.”

The couple had some rough years during the 1950s.

“I’ve heard that when poverty comes in the door, love goes out the window, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that,” Huff said. “It’s harder to hold it together when there’s not enough money. But my wife was my helper.”

“I was raised that way,” Margaret Huff replied. “We were kids during the Depression, but I didn’t see it being that bad.”

The couple are longtime members of the Osage Church of the Brethren, which Huff’s family helped establish.

Huff served on the McCune School Board and later the Southeast USD 247 Board. He and his wife are proud that all three children and six grandchildren attended Pittsburg State University, and in 1995 they were named the PSU Family of the Year.

Their children were also all involved with education. Leonard is retired after teaching business at Girard, and sister Carolyn Barr is a family and consumer science teacher at Girard. Their brother, James Huff, taught at Southeast High School. Their six grandchildren are now carrying on the teaching tradition.

“Our parents instilled it in us to keep learning,” Leonard said. “It will keep you young.”

“I think we all never quit learning,” her mother said. “You’re always learning something new.”

For example, Margaret Huff has a computer and is mastering it. Her husband, who started out farming with a horse-drawn plow, now drives a computerized combine when he helps his son and grandson in farming.

When asked the secret for a long, happy marriage, Margaret Huff replied, “Just get the right guy. No, that’s not all — you do have to work at it. But if you get the right guy, it’s not really work.”

© 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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