BROSVILLE — Before they moved back to the Southside area from Hoboken, N.J., Ruth and Herman Maxie both worked in the furniture industry in Martinsville.
The husband and wife team — married for more than 60 years — first met at a skating rink, now the location of popular Mexican restaurant Mi Ranchito along Memorial Highway in Martinsville. Herman Maxie, a U.S. Army Korean War veteran, struck up a conversation with one of the prettiest girls at the rink, and the rest quickly became history.
Movies frequently portray the 1950s as all sock hops and drive-in movies, but the reality of the Rock and Roll age wasn’t filled with as many poodle skirts and leather jackets as later generations often believe. In fact, living in Martinsville in the ‘50s was far from carefree for many employed individuals who worked hard for every quarter they made.
Seeking financial stability, both Herman and Ruth sought work in the area.
“I was trying to get some money,” Herman said. “It was hard to come by back then. If I could get a 25-cent or 50-cent raise, I would move on to another factory.”
Herman found employment at V.M. Draper Furniture Factory, where he worked as a supervisor.
“I like to make things, so I ran the saw and cut out furniture,” Herman said.
Ruth’s sister, Lelia “Winky” Lawrence, worked at W.M. Bassett Furniture Factory. When Ruth expressed interest in getting a job, Lawrence told her younger sister about open positions at the factory. Ruth applied for a job and gained employment feeding a glue spreader.
She said her favorite part of her job was “the paycheck,” but she also noted working with nice people.
“My boss man was very good,” Ruth said. “I enjoyed working for him. His name was Mr. Craig.”
Early into their marriage, the Maxies moved to New Jersey, where Herman worked at a shipyard. The birth of their children, Karen and Randy Maxie, prompted the couple to move back to Virginia a few years later.
When the Maxies came back to the Old Dominion State, Herman worked in Danville factories and supported the family financially, while Ruth focused on raising the children at home.
When Herman qualified for early retirement, he jumped at the opportunity. With both of their children grown and married, Herman and Ruth set off on a series of great adventures across the United States and Canada.
The couple drove to Niagara Falls, saw the Grand Canyon, strolled along the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk and later went on annual summer trips with their grandchildren.
For Herman, retirement worked out just the way he envisioned.
“I enjoy drinking my coffee and not having to rush to leave,” he said.
Ruth’s retirement, on the other hand, didn’t turn out exactly as planned.
“I thought we would travel more, but it didn’t work out that way,” she said.
Some of Ruth’s favorite retirement times were spent fishing at the beach, bit she now enjoys day trips to Martinsville, Danville and Greensboro, North Carolina.
“I like to go shopping and buy cute shoes,” she said.
For those considering retirement, the Maxies have some words of advice.
First, be financially stable. Pay off the bills. Save for emergencies. Plan for adventures.
“It’s nice, if you can afford it,” Herman said.
Second, follow your dreams. Seek out your passions. Enjoy your hobbies. Travel the world.
“If there’s things you want to do, go ahead and do them because you never know what the future holds,” Ruth said.
Finally, cherish the little things. Hold loved ones close. And of course, flaunt that perfect pair of shoes and savor that fresh cup of coffee.