GLENOLDEN — Getting ready to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on Tuesday, Aug. 6, Edith and Clark Cain have built an enduring marriage through love for each other and their family, as well as through a shared desire to help those in need in the community.
The Glenolden couple’s love story began in the 1945. Clark, a South Philadelphia native with nine siblings, was a stock boy at W. T. Grant on Market Street in Philadelphia. Edith, a Camden, N.J., resident with five siblings, was a stock girl there. Edith says she was in charge of ordering the knick-knacks and later worked in the office. A mutual friend introduced them and they dated for three years.
“When she saw me, she said to herself, 'My goodness, who is that handsome man?'” Clark joked as he reminisced about the day that they first met. During their dating years, the former Philadelphia resident says that he took a trolley car to Broad Street where he caught the subway and then got on a bus to Camden, all so he could see Edith. The Cains said they always felt they were meant to be together because even their birthdays mirrored one another — his is 8/12 and hers is 12/8.
At 17, Clark tried to join the U.S. Navy, but it had an 18 year minimum age requirement. So he became a seaman in the Merchant Marine from 1945-52, serving aboard a ship that carried clean oil from the New England states to Texas. He was later promoted to 2nd mate.
“I was walking through the city and I saw a sign that said, ‘Serve your country, See the world,’ so I signed up,” Clark remembered.
While Clark was away at sea, the daters stayed in touch by writing long letters. Clark came home on leave to marry his longtime sweetheart Edith. The couple tied the knot at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Camden on Aug. 6, 1949. The couple settled in Glenolden in 1950, and raised their sons Robert, Wallace and Clark there. It's the same neatly-kept home where they reside today.
Clark then was assigned as a crew member aboard the S. S. Peter Zenger. The ship transported a new supply of horses from Canada to France because many horses had been casualties in Europe during World War II. He then helped to load the ship with coal to bring back stateside to Virginia.
“Imagine being on a ship with 300 and some horses for weeks at a time,” Clark laughed as he thought back to those days.
After leaving the Merchant Marine, Clark was offered a job as a cook for Atlantic Tugboat. He worked there until it went out of business. He then accepted a job at McAllister’s in New Jersey, where he worked until his retirement. Edith was a stay-at-home mom and homemaker who used her talents in arts and crafts, crocheting, needlepoint and ceramics to brighten others’ lives. She volunteered in her church and the community.
Edith and Clark were among the very first members of First Presbyterian Church of Glenolden, where they are still active. A few years back, their neighbor Ray Clark retired from the post office and asked Clark if he would help pick up bread from the former Pathmark in Glenolden to deliver it to the Bernadine Center in Chester. The errand soon evolved into picking up food donations from area churches to bring down to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park. It wasn’t long before the volunteer bug bit both Edith and Clark and they started going to Loaves and Fishes every Tuesday and Thursday to help out.
“Edie and Clark are two really fine people,” stated former Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry director Linda Freeman. “The community and the people were their priority. They brought warmth and laughter while serving the clients of Loaves and Fishes. Longtime volunteers, they helped us help thousands of people, and they did it smiling all the way!”
Two of the very first volunteers at the pantry, the Cains still volunteer there, every week, almost 20 years later. The Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry was founded in 2001 at Prospect Hill Baptist Church. The pantry serves more than 12,000 individuals each year providing in excess of 240,000 meals. Both Edith, 89, and Clark, who will turn 90 next week, say their service to others has further bonded them in their marriage.
“We are serving God our way, by serving others,” Clark said. “Personally, I am not that good at fixing things or with other talents, but I am good at serving. So that’s what I do.”
Edith nodded her head in agreement. “We've come in contact with wonderful people through our volunteerism at Loaves and Fishes,” she said. “We’ve met very grateful people with good hearts. Helping others there makes us both happy.”
Asked their other secrets for having a marriage that lasted strongly through seven decades, Edith and Clark both responded by saying they took their vows very seriously.
“It’s pretty amazing that anyone can live with another person happily for seventy years,” commented son Wally Cain. “My parents are great people who have always been there for us and for each other.”
The couple, who have been blessed with four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, also attributes 70 years of marital happiness to spending lots of time together. They’ve taken trips together all over the world. In addition to their volunteering, the couple rakes the yard together, takes the trash out together, and accompanies each other to doctor appointments and other errands. Even when they wintered in Florida, they volunteered together in the church thrift shop there.
“We basically do everything together,” Clark explains, “And we never go to bed mad at each other — that’s kids stuff. Marriage is listening and talking to each other. If there’s a problem, we don’t let it fester. We are all human and make mistakes but the bottom line is we still love one another so you have to resolve any differences that come up. Sometimes that is the most difficult part of marriage, but ultimately one of the most important.”
Edith agreed. “You have to forget the bad points. We’ve raised three wonderful children and we are there for one another in good times, as well as times of need. We stood in front of God and took each other for better or for worse. Here we are, seventy years later, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”