It’s a real Valentine story.
Frank and Elaine Sanford celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last Saturday with family at their home at the top of the hill on the Bridgeport Highway.
This is home for the popular pioneer couple, as both went to school in the area and never left it.
They married Jan. 22, 1942, after a two-year courtship that started on the dance floor at a Nespelem dance hall.
“He was an excellent dancer,” Elaine said of her husband. The two danced their lives away for 68 years, stopping only a couple of years ago.
They liked western dancing, and stopped primarily because they couldn’t find any place to dance.
That’s a lot of “do-si-dos.”
Their love of the land served them well. Frank grew up on an Almira farm that was still using horses.
“I said to myself, that’s enough of that,” Frank said.
The Sanfords had two farms, one on the present homestead and the other in Almira.
His father expanded the Sanford ranch, purchasing small farms where the owners couldn’t make it.
It wasn’t long before the Sanfords got into cattle, and then it was wheat and cattle.
While Frank and Elaine periodically took driving trips to places like Arizona, California and Canada, primarily you would find them down on the farm.
“This is the best place to be. Why would you want to be anyplace else?” Frank said, further establishing his roots in his Grand Coulee farm.
Elaine took her schooling in Nespelem. Frank started in Almira and then attended a small Fiddle Creek School, only about a mile from his present home. He graduated from Grand Coulee High School.
The two, when they weren’t dancing or farming, were camping and fishing.
“We like creek fishing,” Elaine stated. And the two name off half a dozen creeks out of Nespelem that used to be their favorite haunts.
His grandparents built a house on the homestead and Frank and Elaine lived in it for years, remodeling it a couple of times.
“Then we built our present house and moved up into the sun,” Frank said.
Approaching their house Tuesday, the way was covered in fog until you got within a stone’s throw of the place, and you were in sunshine.
“We lived down in the hole below where the old road was and we didn’t see the sun until late morning,” Frank explained.
When asked if he had any advice for young couples, Frank responded, “I have enough trouble advising myself.”
While you could say the couple — Frank going on 92 and Elaine, 89 — are retired, they still take an interest in their wheat interests and in the family’s development at Northshore Acres, a thriving settlement of about 30 homes.
“My dad often goes with me down to the farm and pulls weeds and does things,” his son Del Sanford said. “My mother retired when she was 65, from 25 years working for “Rapid Roberts,” a drive-in where La Presa is now located.
The Sanfords have another son, George, who is with the River’s Edge Salon in Grand Coulee.
It’s been a long and good trip, and truly the pair have been Valentines all the way.