.


They first met as teenagers at a dance in Levin in the 1950s, and Cupid shot his arrow.

Ross and Judith Allan, who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last month, were introduced by family members, "although no-one had anything in mind" at the time.

But they hit it off so well they began writing letters to each other each week - sometimes more - once Judith returned home. She was from Auckland but would often visit Levin to stay with her grandmother.

Advertisement

Neither remembered the actual moment they became engaged or made a decision to marry, rather that their relationship had blossomed to the point that these seemed natural progressions.

They even bought their rings together.

"There was no messing around. I didn't even ask your mother and father," he said.

During one visit to Auckland a decision was made to move back home after being offered a job at a correctional facility at Kohitere near Levin.

They were married at the Catholic Church in Papatoetoe when Judith was 19 and Ross was 22.

Their first house was an old jail cell at Hokio Beach. The cell had been moved from Levin to the beach when the new station was built. There was no toilet, no shower or bath, no fridge.

The newlyweds rented the one-bedroom cell as it was all they could afford at the time.
Not that they were complaining.

"It's just how it was in those days," they said. "There was a long room with a sink at one end, oh, and a long drop."

Advertisement

They lived in a house at Kohitere for 18 years before building a home in Meadowvale Drive. The area could now be called central Levin, but at that time it was just the third house in a street surrounded by farmland.

Mr Allan had never forgotten their wedding anniversary, or his wife's birthday, but he had some help. One was on Auckland Anniversary weekend, the other Christmas Day.

They never honeymooned as finances at the time didn't allow it, although "we've had plenty of holidays".

The couple moved to Whitianga in the 1990s for eight years and were happy, but when Judith developed cancer requiring treatment, the trip to hospital was five hours. They were a long way from family and made the decision to move back home to Levin.

Ross has a tale of survival too, having had three heart attacks, two hips and one knee replaced, and a minor stroke a few years ago.

"We eat well. We don't have takeaways," they said.

They have four children - Christine, Robyn, Joanne and Rhys, eight grandchildren and 13 great- grandchildren.

"We've got a wonderful family. They're always there for us," she said.

Listening to their stories, it was hard not to draw comparisons between life today and the how it was for their generation.

"It was hard. You were paid 25 pounds a fortnight. We came into town once a fortnight to get a side of mutton and that would cost three or four pound and on the way home stop at a farm and buy cream and milk for four pence," they said.

They frequented estate sales to collect home furnishings after saving for their first car, a Vauxhall.

To make ends meet they both took on second jobs, Judith picking strawberries while Ross would fill flagons.

"You had to, to maintain a certain lifestyle and give your children a reasonable upbringing," he said. "They were good times, but it was hard yakka."

So, what was the secret to a long and happy marriage?

"We just get on," they said.