In 1962, the United States put the first man in orbit and the Beatles recorded their hit single “Love Me Do.” In that same year, Elmo Battles was a 32-year-old Korean War veteran and single father of three boys working in his hometown of Cuero, Texas at the local Chevy dealership.
Elmo knew Shirley Battles’ parents as regular customers and one day they brought her and her sister in with them to the dealership where Elmo was to inspect their car. That’s when he first laid eyes on Shirley. It was a couple of more meetings until Elmo asked her where she lived. “I drove out there as fast as I could,” he said. He recollects traveling down dirt roads that he had never even known to get to Shirley’s house. “I was hoping I would make it back.”
Elmo found her house and that began a two-year courtship until they married in 1964. Elmo bought a house on Morgan Street, and Shirley, a beautician by trade, moved her shop next to their home. They raised another child, a daughter named Djuna.
Elmo said being home with his family was most important to him. He had been offered jobs that paid more money, but they would take him away from his family for months at a time. “But I’m a family man,” he said. “That’s where I wanted to be.” So, Elmo worked at the Chevy dealership during the day and drove a wrecker for the dealership at night and sometimes bartended with his brother. “If there’s something you want, you have to work hard for it,” he said.
The couple lived there on Morgan Street until 2006 when they moved to the Onion Creek Senior Village in Buda so they could be closer to their daughter who now lives in Buda.
Elmo credits their long relationship to the fact that “she never questioned anything I’d do. She supported me. And I wanted to make her happy.” He also credited the fact that they both went to church and both like fishing. “We used to go to Port Lavaca whenever we could.”
When asked what advice he’d give to young people in love, he said it would be to “Pray together. And never argue … nothing good ever came from arguing.”