ANDERSON, Ind. —
Charles Murdock was just about 14 when he started as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army in Kansas City, as part of its red kettle holiday charity drive.
“You about freeze to death, out in the open like that,” said Murdock, now 84 and living in Anderson.
Charles’ wife, Martha, was around the same age when she started ringing through the Army’s Red Shield Club with her girlfriends.
About 70 years later, they’re both still soldiers.
“I like the Army,” said Martha, now 81. “I like how they help people. And that’s what I wanted to do, was help people.”
Part of that stems from their childhood. Charles was born just before the 1929 stock market crash that spurred the Great Depression. Martha was born just after.
“I remember going to bed hungry, night after night,” Charles said.
Martha said a big part of why she became so involved was “seeing there were people worse off” than she was.
In the almost seven decades they’ve been volunteering, the Murdocks have just about done it all.
Among other things, Charles has collected kettles for the annual drive, and is a former Young People’s sergeant major and recreational director. Martha’s been in charge of the local Toys For Tots drive, was involved in what is now the Women’s Ministry and was a leader for Girl Guards, the Salvation Army’s version of Girl Scouts, she said.
There’s also a family history with the Army. Charles’ father became a captain in 1915 and served for over a decade, he said.
It was through his father’s involvement that he and Martha ended up together.
They’d met about five years earlier, when Charles’ father was asked to preach at the Salvation Army in Elwood.
“After the meeting was over, Dad stopped at a little restaurant and asked me if I’d take these girls (Martha and her friend) home,” Charles said. “I got back to the restaurant to get my dad, and he said ‘Suffering Christmas ,.. where have you been?’”
The rest was history.
They were married about three years later in 1947, at the Salvation Army by Brigadier Clarence Critzer. The Murdocks celebrated their 65th anniversary last week.
Nowadays, the couple isn’t as involved in the Army.
The last time Martha did the annual red kettle drive was two years ago, and for Charles, it’s been four.
“I’d go out and ring or something, if they want me,” Charles said.
Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.
The Anderson Salvation Army needs bell ringers for its red kettle holiday charity drive.
Contact the Salvation Army at 644-2538.