Tales from the Cabin
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"I Do" Love You

A couple celebrates 60 years of wedded bliss by renewing their vows at the cabin

By Christy Heitger-Ewing
Published: December 17, 2010
webJimImogeneCabinVowRenewal
Photo by Rozella Heitger
Sixty years of marriage deserves a proper celebration. Jim and Imogene Ratterree did it right, and did it twice: with a ceremony at their cabin to renew their vows, and with a Caribbean cruise.
   
Jim and Imogene married on October 8, 1949, but they weren’t able to participate in an actual wedding ceremony because Imogene was in nursing school, and at the time, rules dictated that she was not allowed to marry and remain in nursing school. So the love-struck pair ran off to Highland Park, Mich., to secretly tie the knot.
   
The Ratterrees went on to raise a family in Royal Oak, Mich., before buying a summer lake cabin in 1958 in northern Michigan. In 1980, the couple winterized and refurbished the cabin in order to retire there. It has been, and continues to be, a perfect gathering spot for their four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
   
When their 60-year anniversary was approaching, their daughter suggested that her parents plan a long-overdue wedding ceremony. There was much to be decided: attire, food, cake, reception, music and more. But one decision was made without hesitation: location. They decided the cabin would be the ideal place to renew their vows. Not only was the spot special and romantic, but it also offered the perfect excuse to invite friends and relatives to a three-day shindig that would include daily boating, nightly campfires and an abundance of laughter.
   
As word got out of the special event, the guest list quickly grew. It seemed that a whole lot of family and friends wanted to witness this beautiful, long-awaited cabin wedding. Before long, this once simple, romantic vow renewal ceremony turned into an all-out destination wedding.
   
Finally, the big weekend arrived. Friday’s scheduled events included a sing-along bonfire the night before the ceremony, complete with roasted hot dogs and gooey s’mores. Then on Saturday, in front of 94 relatives, friends and cabin neighbors, Jim and Imogene exchanged vows, fed each other vanilla cake and danced cheek-to-cheek to the song “We’ve Only Just Begun.”
   
The couple honeymooned by setting sail on a Caribbean cruise, where they indulged in fine food, fellowship and fun.
   
The highlight came when the two lovebirds were beckoned on stage to partake in the cruise’s “newlywed game.” The couple kept the passengers howling in their seats. When asked to name the movie which best described their love life, they both answered “Superman” (which you gotta admit, ain’t bad after 60 years of matrimony!).
   
But the question that solidified Jim and Imogene as the coolest cruisin’ couple was when the cruise director posed the query that launched a thousand laughs: “What is your wife’s bra size?” Jim furrowed his brow, paused for a long while, and finally answered with hesitation, “8 large?”
   
That cinched it. For the rest of the cruise, Jim and Imogene couldn’t eat in the dining room, relax on the deck, play a game of Pinochle in the piano lounge or indulge in an ice cream cone without a passenger stopping to salute the “Superman couple” for demonstrating the joy and laughter that 60 years of marriage can bring.
   
As much as they loved the attention, the Ratterrees were eager to get back to the business of laid-back cabin life: fishing from the pontoon boat, tinkering in the garage and watching the sun set from the gazebo. But for Jim there was a new chore: sorting laundry, so he could learn, once and for all, that there is no such thing as an “8 large.” Except in one’s heart, that is, where love knows no size.

Frequent contributor Christy Heitger-Ewing is proud to be a cabin neighbor of the adorable and inspiring “Superman couple.”
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