Sometimes in this life,
things come back around
By GRAHAM OSTEEN
Editor and Publisher
Take a look at the picture of the young couple under the waterfall with their pants legs rolled up.
It was taken at North Carolina’s Looking Glass Falls in 1939. The man is 19-year-old Jack Adams of Hartsville, and the young woman is 17-year-old Mary Frances Montgomery of Williamsburg County. The pair first met four years earlier through Jack’s first cousin, Loree Gandy of Hartsville.
The young couple talked of marriage, but World War II came along and at age 22 Jack enlisted. He would become a B-17 navigator and fly 61 missions over North Africa, Italy, Greece, Austria and Germany from August 1943 to March 1944. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. All the while, he kept pictures of Mary Frances in his wallet.
Mary Frances graduated from Kingstree High School in 1939 and headed to the University of South Carolina. She and Jack wrote one another regularly, but their lives took very different turns.
Jack met Lily Jensen, a receptionist at “17 Magazine” in Los Angeles while he was stationed near there. Mary Frances was pursued by H.B. Brown, a prominent farmer and merchant in Lane, South Carolina (Williamsburg County) who was serving his country in World War II as a member of a field artillery unit.
Jack married Lil in 1944, and Mary Frances married H.B. several months later.
The Browns built a life in Lane while raising two daughters and two sons. The Adams built a life in Hartsville, raising two sons and a daughter.
“Jack and I always had strong feelings for one another,” Mary Frances said. “Our families got together through the years, and we were all close friends.”
It was only after both Jack and Mary Frances lost their spouses in recent years that their lives would reconnect. It was around Christmas 2002 when Jack first called on her in Lane.
“I was returning the pictures of her that I had kept all those years,” Jack said. After the initial visit, they began visiting one another every week on Wednesdays, back and forth from Hartsville to Lane.
One day they courted down in McClellanville, where her mother’s family – the Wards – are from. She had told her garden club friends that she couldn’t go on a Lowcountry plantation tour with them that day because her knee hurt. She and Jack were sitting in McClellanville’s Crab Pot restaurant, minding their own business, when who marches in but the entire Kingstree Green Thumb Garden Club.
They were busted, and she hasn’t been back since.
“I had been planning to drop out anyway,” Mary Frances said.
On June 28, 2003, Mary Frances Montgomery Brown, 82, and Jack Adams, 84, were married in front of their families at her home in Lane.
“We decided we wanted to see more of each other,” Jack said.
The service was performed by John Smiley, a retired Methodist minister. The couple spent three days in Hendersonville “in the rain,” Jack said, where they visited an old grits mill that his grandfather owned. It’s now called the Mill House Lodge. They got tired of the rain and “headed to the beach,” Mary Frances said.
The newlyweds have finally settled down out in Kelleytown.
Take a look at the picture of the smiling couple below. That’s Jack Adams, 84, and Mary Frances Adams, 82, in front of those same Looking Glass Falls in North Carolina.
It took them awhile, but they finally hooked up again.