Wartime wedding hurry-up

PETRA FINER
Last updated 05:00 09/11/2012

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Merle and John Smith have been married so long they can't remember if their meeting was love at first sight.

The Hawera 90-year-olds will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on November 21.

They can, however, remember with crystal clarity exactly why they got hitched in 1942.

Mrs Smith, nee Fairweather, said it was because of the war.

"He came home on final leave and we thought we better get married - we probably wouldn't have otherwise."

After the war, family roles were unconventional by the standards of the day. Mrs Smith went to work when their eldest child, Vernice, now 68, was about 5 years old and middle child Mervyn, now 65, was only 2.

A builder by trade, Mr Smith built the family home on a quiet quarter-acre section while his wife paid the bills.

The roles reversed after they moved in and she stayed home as their third child, Cheryl, now 59, came along.

One of their greatest regrets was selling the caravan they had travelled in after Mr Smith retired 30 years ago.

According to her, the reason was Mr Smith's failing eyesight. According to him, it was because the way people drive these days is rather hair-raising.

They say the key to a happy union is to let things go once in a while and to surround yourself with a good family.

"We don't argue; we've had a few differences but we just don't bother," Mrs Smith said. "We agree to disagree."

While wedding anniversaries have always been a quiet, gift-free affair in their house, the Smiths will celebrate by having a rare dinner out with family and friends.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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