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At Homecare Interact, we are enjoying sharing stories of romance and love this February! Below our very own, Annie Summerall, shares a love story for the ages!
My great grandmother’s name was Mary McKay, but the family called her Ganny. She was born and raised in Florida in a town called Ocala. Sadly, after Ganny turned ten, her mother died, and she had to move to Barberville, Florida. She attended Central High School there. That school marks the place where she, the new girl, first met Frank Elmore Underhill, the baseball star. When they first spoke, she had no idea that she would be spending the rest of her life with him. The two of them got along so well and were both extremely curious about the other. The more time they spent together, the more Ganny liked Frank, whom she started to call Elmore to tease him. The more Ganny liked Elmore, the more her father did not. Her father knew that Elmore liked to have a good time, and did not approve of his party-boy ways. He believed his daughter could do better, and he did not want that bad influence on her! Ganny and Elmore stayed together through high school. They loved each other so much, and the fact that their relationship was sort of “forbidden” just added fuel to their fire. However, the time came when it was time to go off to college. Ganny followed in her mother’s footsteps and attended Flora MacDonald College in North Carolina. Unfortunately, Elmore decided to stay and enroll at Stetson University in Florida to play baseball. To them, it was no matter. They were confident that their relationship could withstand the distance. They were right.
On New Year’s Eve of 1936, Ganny and Elmore decided they were tired of sneaking around and wanted to start their lives together. Elmore felt they had only one option—sneak away and elope. They were only 19! Despite their young age and Ganny’s father’s disapproval, Elmore put a ladder up to her window that night and convinced her to run away with him. They climbed down the latter and hopped in the car to head to a courthouse nearby. It all seemed so easy until they found one major flaw in their plan: eloping was not allowed in Florida at that time. Their drive was going to be a little bit longer now, seeing as Georgia was the nearest state that allowed a young couple to elope. They did not want to turn back after coming so far, so the trip to Georgia began. Ganny always said that this car ride was the most exciting moment of her life, and she was glad it lasted over three hours. The entire time she was terrified her father would find her empty room and come out looking for them. However, the excitement and romance of it all overpowered her fears. Elmore and Ganny finally found a court house that would perform the ceremony for them. The two high school sweethearts married shortly before midnight that night, also New Year’s Day. Ganny and Elmore were so excited afterwards and knew they had might the right decision. They drove home the next day and told both sets of parents. Ganny’s dad was furious after waiting up that morning once he realized his daughter was gone. After a few years, he finally came around and accepted Elmore as his son-in-law, and Ganny and Elmore spent the rest of their lives in Florida together.
Elmore always loved the fact that the elopement happened before midnight because that year, 1936, was a leap year. During that time, it was said that only during a leap year can a girl ask a boy to marry her. Elmore teased Ganny her whole life that she was the one who asked him to run away together, not the other way around. It always made her so mad! I can remember Ganny telling all of the great-granddaughters that she wouldn’t let us get married during a Leap Year even if we wanted to.