Gene and Martha Finney on I Share Hope

Timeless hope with Gene and Martha Finney #isharehope Episode 97

The Father Son Reunion (video)

Reed Riders (Youtube)

Creative Aging

Gene (88) and Martha (84) Finney share their story of hope from the 1950s.

Gene is a World War II veteran who served the navy for about two years. After the war ended, Gene took the option of taking a course under the GI bill which offered a cosmetology course and a sheet metal course. Gene did not have a chance to go to school before joining the navy. In the interview, he relates how he started making money by the age of 8 by selling gum and taking on different jobs, constantly hoping to do better, until he joined the navy at age 17. Having the eye of an entrepreneur, Gene took on the cosmetology class (which he knew would pay better) and later became a hairstylist for Gould’s Salon Spa where he retired from just last year at the age of 87. He was a hairstylist there for 63 years. He’s done the hair of Elvis and Cybill Shepherd. Gene is also an avid harmonica player. He’s played individually, with a band and lately with his eldest son, Rick. Gene uses his gift of music to share hope to a lot of people – he plays in retirement homes and churches and wherever his music takes him! Click the links below to watch Gene Finney play harmonica and make wonderful music.

Martha is a nurse and is an accomplished bowler. She is a city and state champion for bowling. Martha and Gene met when Martha was 15 and Gene was 19 in a dance and met again after a year where they’ve decided to get married. Martha fondly recalls how Gene had sent her out every morning from 11th to 12th grade to finish high school. When their last child went to school, Martha then took up nursing and later worked as a nurse for 25 years.

Gene and Martha have been married for 67 years and are the proud parents of three children, Ricky, a pilot/cropduster, Sharon a teacher and Jeannie a caregiver. Gene and Martha believes that in life, we shouldn’t give up and that we should know that there’s always a way to make it through.

Timeless hope with Gene and Martha Finney #isharehope Episode 97

Summary: Gene and Martha’s answer to the five questions! Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

Question 1: How do you define hope or what is your favorite quote about hope?

Gene and Martha:

“The idea is just don’t give up. There’s always a way to make it.”-Gene

Question 2: Who has shared the most hope with you?

Gene and Martha:

I’d say a lot of people had done it without really knowing what they said. It’s funny, I think the most good anybody ever does is when they say something they would – you’re reading somebody’s life, they way they act and live and they may not know what they’re’doing, but it might project an ideal of hope to you just watching how they do things. –Gene

I have buddies that I bowl with and we shared everything, so anytime anything happened with one of us, we all knew it. That’s who helped me. –Martha

Question 3: How have you used hope to make it through a difficult time in your life?

Gene and Martha:

When I married Gene, he worked at the post office. He had a good job, but they laid a lot of them off in 1950. He became a cook for a while, drove a taxi for a while. When he went to school after that, we were making $105 a month from the government. That’s all we got and we paid $65 a month for rent. This was a hard time. Back then you got to really scrape to buy what you needed. I have tried to teach our children to be conservative and I’m glad they are. They all work hard. -Martha

That’s the main thing that we work for – that they would do better than what we had. That they would know how to raise their children. They were our hope. -Gene

After the war and all that killing, all the harmonicas were made in Germany and in Japan they teach harmonica playing. In the harmonica world they have a thing called SPAH and they have conventions. Harmonica players come all over the world and there are people just like us and a lot of them didn’t want to fight. It’s wonderful to realize that we all can be friends in the world instead of enemies. -Gene

The way I was brought up, nobody had anything. I had that patriotic feeling in my soul to fight for my country even though we had nothing. If I had one meal a day, I’d be lucky when I was growing up. When I was 17, I went to join the Navy and thank God I did. It makes a man out of you. The war ended and they started demoting a lot of people and getting rid of them. They called me to come to my office to have my discharge. They helped me over. I went to Treasure Island going to boot camp and we almost went into war with Russia. Thank God it didn’t materialize. –Gene

I met Gene the first time when I was 15. I had spent the night with a friend because my mother was working and my daddy just died. We went out for a while at a dance and Gene asked me for a dance and I said no. I saw him seven months later, I was 16 by then and he asked me to dance and I danced with him and then that was it. He said “let’s go get married” and I said “okay”. So we go down Mississippi and he stops in front of this tall, white building and he says “come on”. I got out. I’m just checking to see if he’d really marry me. About five months later, we did go get married and we ran off to Hernando, Mississippi. You could go down there and get married for $5 dollars without anybody siding for you and no blood test and all that kind of stuff. He says, well we got the license, let’s go get married, here’s the Justice of Peace. I said, man I can’t be married by Justice of Peace, I got to go to a Baptist Church, so he took me to a Baptist Church and paid the preacher $5 for marrying us. –Martha

I was in 12th grade in school and he made me finish high school and he sent me out every morning from 11th and 12th grade to finish high school. I’m so thankful because if he hadn’t I could have never been a nurse. My mother said he couldn’t take me home with him until he had an apartment. About two weeks later, she called us and said that the apartment next door was vacant so I stayed home two weeks. (laughs) –Martha

I was hoping all the time to do better, you know? –Gene

He did good. He did great. –Martha

I did it by hoping. -Gene

Question 4: How are you sharing hope today?

Gene and Martha:

You know what I do? If somebody says “How are you doing Gene?” I say “better than I deserve”. A lot of people say, “no you deserve better than that” and “no I don’t”. I don’t deserve nothing. –Gene

We share our hope by going to visit people in the hospitals and Gene plays with this group called Creative Aging and he plays at all the retirement homes and at churches. –Martha

There’s my folks that takes sandwiches and things around the people that have nothing to eat, they had us riding around in the car when they brought these sandwiches to these poor people’s houses, we went in with the harmonica and played Sweet Georgia Brown for them. We did that for a long time. That brings hope to a lot of people that are sitting there, they ain’t got nothing and somebody’s handing them a sandwich with music provided for them. –Gene

We went the other day to Dorothy’s place and it’s a blessing to us to see them clapping and trying to sing the song. It’s just wonderful. I mean really. We get a lot out of it too, don’t we dad? –Martha

Another good thing about it too is if you make a mistake they don’t remember it.

Question 5: How should I (the listener) begin to grow in hope or share hope today?

Gene and Martha:

(1) The main thing is being friendly to people.
(2) Get out and make friends and have friends. That way you can be of help to them when they need you.

Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.