CLOVER — Constance Marie Currence had the world all to herself – for 10 minutes.
Her twin, Allison Dawn Currence, was then born, identical in almost every respect.
They were 18 inches long, born six week premature. The only difference was the younger Allison was 10 ounces heavier. Marie was 5 pounds 3 ounces. Allison was 5 pounds, 13 ounces.
For parents, William and Kathy Currence of Clover, the twin blessing wasn’t unexpected. Kathy’s great-grandmother on her mother’s side gave birth to five sets of twins. On her father’s side there had been a set of twins born every generation.
William learned of the twins coming on his birthday, Dec. 1, and the twins were born March 4.
Marie and Allison soon became inseparable at home and then school – and now at age 28, at work.
They have offices at opposite ends of the building, working for Bernard Ackerman of Rock Hill. They each have different clients and most wouldn’t know they are twins, as they are now married. It’s Marie Currence Spearman, CPA, and mother of a 2-year-old boy, and Allison Currence Ludwig, CPA.
But to almost anyone who has known them in Clover, it will forever be “A-B,” their collective nickname that may have started in fourth grade.
“A-B” have become friends, confidants, competitors and, now, co-workers.
“She is my best friend, she gets me,” Allison said.
They excelled at Clover High School academically and athletically. There were co-valedictorians of their class with a 4.45 grade-point average. Athletically, they played softball – Marie in left field, Allison at third base – and volleyball, where they earned all-region honors.
At one point in high school their mother suggested they take accounting. They declined.
With scholarships in hand, they headed to Clemson, intending to earn mechanical engineering degrees and then returning to Clover where they would live on a farm together, Marie said.
They had the same class schedule and shared a set of textbooks. Their careful plans, however, were sidetracked in an introductory accounting class. A presentation about the various fields in accounting – including sports – caught their attention. The want-to-be engineers became accounting majors.
They earned accounting degrees from Clemson and then master’s degrees in accounting from Gardner Webb. They returned home and the inseparable “A-B” went in separate directions. Marie went to work for an accounting firm in Clover, while Allison went to work for Ackerman in Rock Hill.
The separation didn’t last long. When a job opened at the Ackerman office, Allison went to see the boss, Bernie.
“She asked if we could hire Marie,” Bernie remembered. “I told her we normally don’t hire family members. But if she was as smart as her sister, bring her on.”
Ackerman said he doesn’t regret his decision. “They are twins, they take care of each other.”
When it came time for the twins to take the certified public accounting exam, they went to mom’s home to study together, and then posted almost identical scores on the sections of the test. One would score a point higher on one section, and the twin could regain that point on the next section.
Now married, they live within five minutes of each other in Clover and carpool to work. Since they shop together, they sometimes wear nearly identical outfits to work, but that’s not by design.
They are professional at work and keep the “twin tricks” to a minimum. But if they are together, be prepared for the twin answer. Marie will often respond to a question first and Allison will finish the answer.
The “twins tricks,” in moderation, are OK, says Ronny Burkett, a Columbia-based accountant. Ronny and his identical twin Donny, 61, have been working together for all but about two years since they were 13. Donny started the firm in 1976 and Ronny joined him in 1977. They now have offices in Columbia, Rock Hill and Sumter.
Their employees will sometimes ask who is the evil twin and who is the good twin. “I tell them it depends on the day,” Ronny said.
Like Marie and Allison, they intended to go into a different business. They wanted to be grocers. But they studied accounting at the University of South Carolina, and it was cheaper to open an accounting office than a grocery. They opened their office with a calculator, a stack of green accounting ledger sheets and a clipboard.
Like Allison, Ronny can’t imagine a day going by without talking to his identical twin brother (the only outward difference is Donny has a mustache).
The elder Burketts have some advice for the younger Spearman and Ludwig.
“Find a spouse that understands you,” Ronny said, advice Spearman and Ludwig said they have already taken.
The second piece of advice – “have fun, enjoy the time together, it’s special,” Ronny said. “It OK to play some tricks on the staff too.”
“My wish is they could spend the next 40 years working side-by-side,” Ronny said. “I can’t think of working with a better person.”
Which is just fine with “A-B.”
“We hope to work here as long as Bernie keeps us,” Marie said.
Don Worthington 803-329-4066 firstname.lastname@example.org