By: Taylor Tepper | Largo Patch | March 8, 2011
Remember when Thomas Dewey defeated Harry Truman and when the “Gentleman’s Agreement” won the Oscar for best picture or how about when Dinah Shore’s “Buttons and Bows” sat atop the record charts.
It was 1948. The same year Marian and James Conover got hitched. This Largo couple’s love and commitment defined their lives. In the sixty-three years since they tied the knot, the Conover’s raised nine children- five boys and four girls.
The story of how they met brings to mind Rob Reiner’s testimonial in the film, “When Harry Met Sally.”
Both were born in 1926. Marian is a tad bit older than James. They lived in the beach town of Freehold, NJ, which rests 15 miles west of Jersey Shore. It wasn’t until after the war, where James was enlisted in the Navy, when James’s sister introduced the two. They married shortly thereafter.
James and Marian didn’t decide to have small family. They wanted to hear the pitter patter of young feet running throughout the house. But managing nine children was daunting and the couple struggled to keep track of everyone.
“One time we were at the beach and we left to go back home. After we left, we turned around and asked, Where’s Michael?” Marian Conover explained.
“He never missed us,” James Conover said with a smile on his face. “When we got back to him, he was still playing in the sand playground.”
Supporting a family with as many members as a football team requires hard work. James entered into the family painting contractor business, before going to government work. He ultimately ended up at Nestle.
Marian stayed home with the kids- that was no easy task.
“I raised the kids,” she said. “He did anything he could to get out of the house.”
One of their children, also named James, became friends with a local musician, now known as the Boss. The Boss became one of the biggest rock stars of his era- Bruce Springsteen.
“Bruce Springsteen used to sing on our porch,” Conover explained. “I did not think he’d amount to much.”
After their kids were grown, the Conovers moved to the warm confines of St. Petersburg. It is difficult to stay in touch with all of their progeny, four of them live in the Los Angeles area. But they talk about them with great pride.
“Billy works for the LA Times,” the Conover’s said with delight.
James and Marian demonstrate chemistry that results from a relationship going into its seventh decade. He is very much animated and gregarious, apt to laugh quickly and tell a dirty joke or two.
She is more demure, looking to the side when James indulges in irreverent humor. But it’s obvious she enjoys it as much as he does.