Sharing a good laugh as the years fly by

21:02, Nov 28 2012
JUST MARRIED: The couple on their wedding day in 1952.

The first thing Loma Harris noticed about John Lyes was his smile.

Sixty years later the pair are still smiling.

The Otahuhu couple celebrated their diamond anniversary (60 years of marriage) last Thursday.

STILL SMILING: John and Loma Lyes are celebrating 60 years of marriage.

Sharing a good laugh is the secret to a long and happy marriage, they say.

"A sense of humour is what holds anything together. As long as you can laugh, everything's all right," Mrs Lyes says.

But Mr Lyes says the secret is a little simpler: "Let her win!"


The pair met as teenagers at the Panmure RSA, where they often went dancing on Saturday nights.

"There wasn't much else to do except dancing on the Saturday night and pictures and that was it. We had no cars, no nothing in those days," Mrs Lyes says.

With the buses stopping at 10pm, the only way to get home to Otahuhu after the dances was to walk - a distance of around 5km.

"I don't know how long it took. We just talked."

The two were soon engaged - although neither remembers the details of the proposal.

"I think my father must have got to him with a shovel," Mrs Lyes says.

The wedding was held at St Joseph's Catholic Church and six sons - who went to Mrs Lyes' old school St Joseph's, and later De La Salle College in Mangere - soon followed.

And Otahuhu has been the couple's home all their lives.

While they moved house a few years back, they didn't go very far - just over the garden fence.

They moved into the house right next door while one of their sons took over their old place.

"I suppose I did the smart thing because I bought a section when I'd just started work and built a house on it," Mr Lyes says.

"Every time I walked past it I said, ‘I'm going to sell that and buy a car', but I never ever did."

Mr Lyes worked for New Zealand Post for 40 years while Mrs Lyes worked at the local telephone exchange.

They have never travelled outside the North Island, preferring instead to spend summers at their holiday home in Thames and at the caravan park in Stillwater, just north of Auckland.

"With the children, we always ended up at the beach - fishing and what have you," Mrs Lyes says.

Now 81 and 82, the couple have 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

They celebrated their 60th anniversary on Saturday in the company of 60 guests at the Otahuhu Rugby League clubrooms.

Manukau Courier