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75 years of patience; a holy toll dilemma

When they first got married, Fred Russell says, his wife Ann would drive him crazy by squeezing the tube of toothpaste in the middle.

He told her a long time ago he doesn't like it, but she still did it. In fact, she's still doing it. So Fred adjusted, just like Ann has adjusted to Fred's various habits.

It's an adjustment period that has lasted since 1928.

"I always tell people to be very tolerant," Russell said. "Don't find fault with the things they do. Of course, we love each other and care about each other."

Fred and Ann will celebrate their 75th anniversary today with a special party at their Sun City Center residence in Aston Gardens at The CourtYards. The party will include champagne and cake, and Willard Scott is expected to recognize the couple on the Today Show.

Fred Russell is something of a pioneer in Sun City Center. He moved there with Ann in 1969 and helped found the volunteer security patrol and fire department. Dec. 1 is now Fred Russell Day in Sun City Center

Fred said he first noticed Ann at a YMCA dance back in Rochester, N.Y. The stock market crashed soon after their marriage, but Fred said tough times just made their relationship stronger. He worked at a canning plant making 10 cents an hour, while Ann worked at the factory helping with accounting.

"We lost everything we had in the Great Depression," Fred said. "We vowed we would never let anybody take anything from us again. We didn't buy something unless we had the money."

Fred and Ann had "one purse," and every major purchase was in both their names. He thinks that's another reason they have managed to stay together so long. If he wanted something, she would let him buy it. And if she wanted something, he would let her buy it.

I wish it worked that way in my house.

Kudos to the owners of The House of Two Sisters. Debra Vallejo and Diane Reynolds are opening up their S Howard Avenue tea room and antique shop to Big Brothers/Big Sisters for the next three Saturdays. The little sisters will get a chance to enjoy a spot of tea and tasty treats.

They've got the wrong idea at Kid City. The Children's Museum will hold an ice cream social Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. with ice cream from four parlors: Sara's Scoops, Ed & Eddie' Dumb Dums and Edy's. It's $2 for museum members and $6.75 for non-members.

That's all good, but why stop with a social. How about an ice cream showdown? Who's got the best? Forget charity, I want a little trash-talking between these vendors.

As I made my way to the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway Monday night, I spotted a bumper sticker that said, "Help, I'm Having An Out Of Money Experience." Being all too familiar with such experiences, I laughed and then began to lament not being better with finances.

When I pulled up to the toll both, I stuck my dollar out but the attendant wouldn't take it.

"The car in front of you paid your toll, and they told me to give you this note."

The attendant was just as curious as I was about the message, which was written on a sheet of notebook paper and folded. I opened it and found these words: "Jesus Loves You. Psalm 1:39. Jesus paid for your sin."

I guess He also paid for my toll.

But the question now is, what do I do with the dollar? Give it to a homeless person, pay for someone else's toll, keep it for good luck or buy a Lotto ticket?

That's all I'm saying.

_ Ernest Hooper can be reached at 226-3406 or