Young love survives a half century |

Young love survives a half century

by Jonni Hill
Nevada Appeal News Service
Don and Annett Garrison stand outside their home in Gardnerville. The two, who eloped, have been married 51 years. Niki Newbold/ Appeal News Service

Retired East Fork Justice of the Peace Don Garrison strolled into Woodett’s Diner in Gardnerville late one morning last November for a cup of coffee and picked up a copy of The Record-Courier to peruse during his morning ritual.

As he read the 50-year segment of the “Remember When” column that appears every Wednesday, he saw a story from Nov. 29, 1956, of a “runaway teenage couple” and he knew right away that the story was about him. In his amazement, he pointed the story out to the waitress who, not realizing the story was about Garrison, said, “I’d kill the kid if that was my daughter.”

Garrison half laughed over her comment as he told her the story was about him and his wife, Annett.

The original story said the couple would be married after their second attempt to run away landed them in custody of the Tahoe Township constable. After talking on the phone to the couple’s parents, the couple was returned to Los Angeles where they were wed Dec. 9, 1956.

Garrison and Annett celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2006.

“We had met on a blind date,” Garrison said. “We went to The Pike, an amusement park in Long Beach, that was our first date.”

When they decided they wanted to get married, they found themselves underage and without parental consent, so they ran away.

“We went to Arizona to get married,” Garrison said. “We didn’t have any identification when the reverend asked for it and when he all of a sudden was on the phone, we knew we were in trouble.

“They arrested Annett and told me just to get out of town because they didn’t want to charge me with anything. I told her I would follow right behind her (when her parents took her home) but then I had a flat tire on my 1949 customized low-riding Chevy. When I pulled off the road, I sank into the sand and was stuck there for the night.”

Not willing to give up on their dream, the future Mr. and Mrs. Garrison tried once more.

“I had spent a lot of time in Lake Tahoe. I had gone to school there, and I knew a lot of people.” Garrison said. “We got a room at a motel and I had no trouble getting a job as a painter. My boss knew we weren’t married, but he never said anything. We were there barely a month when we were found again.”

The Garrisons were allowed to marry with the reluctant permission of their parents in Van Nuys, Calif.

Upon their union, they returned to Douglas County, where Garrison would spend the next 15 years working in construction.

When the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office started the reserve officer program, Garrison signed up. He spent a lot of time with law enforcement friends of the family.

“It was rather easy to become an officer back then once you put in your time,” he said.

When an opening appeared, he became a full-time deputy.

He went on to be a juvenile probation officer for both Douglas County and Carson City, finally retiring as East Fork Justice Court justice of the peace in 1987.

Garrison is still a justice of the peace pro tem, which allows him to preside at weddings. The latest ceremony he officiated was for his grandson. Annett worked for Contel phone company until 1984, when she retired.

“It wasn’t always easy,” Annett said, referring to making a relationship last.

The Garrisons have been residents of the Carson Valley for 43 years.

They raised three children: daughter Donna Juchtzer, of Gardnerville; son Ed who now lives in Placerville; and son Randy, who lives in Carson City.

They also have three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

They celebrated their 50-year anniversary at the Carson Valley Inn with several local and out of town relatives as well as some long time friends.

“I used to wonder how a couple could make it to a 50-year anniversary,” Garrison said.

“And then I realized, first of all, you just have to live long enough.”