It seems 1958 was a very good year for love ...

For this years, six Whanganui couples living at the same retirement village are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversaries.

The coincidence was uncovered during a happy hour conversation at Summerset village in Whanganui East.

Alan Lints mentioned that he and wife June would be celebrating their diamond wedding on August 23.

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"I then said that Joan and I would be celebrating ours on August 26 and that's how we discovered that six of us couples at Summerset have anniversaries this year," said Clive Sullivan.

Joy Drummond (left), Ian Drummond, Joan Sullivan, Clive Sullivan, Faith Palmer, Alan Palmer, June Lints, Alan Lints, Pauline Muirhead, Dick Muirhead, Doreen Stuthridge and Frank Stuthridge.
Joy Drummond (left), Ian Drummond, Joan Sullivan, Clive Sullivan, Faith Palmer, Alan Palmer, June Lints, Alan Lints, Pauline Muirhead, Dick Muirhead, Doreen Stuthridge and Frank Stuthridge.

The Sullivans were married in Feilding where they met as young teachers, while Alan and Faith Palmer also wed in the Manawatu town in December 1958.

The Lints met and married in Whanganui — as did Frank and Doreen Stuthridge on April 7, and Ian and Joy Drummond on September 17.

"I was a debutante and I met Ian at my coming out ball," said Joy.

"I was the barman," added Ian.

Joy felt guilty about ditching the partner who accompanied her to the ball but she hit it off with Ian right away and they say tolerance and sharing have kept them together ever since.

"People give you a lot of advice when you are engaged, and someone told me marriage was a life sentence," Ian says. "Well, I've been very happy with my cellmate."

The sixth Summerset couple, Dick and Pauline Muirhead, are the ones who married outside the region, tying the knot in Wellington on February 22.

"We moved here when Dick was transferred for work, and we were very happy to raise our family here and we still love it," said Pauline.

The couples who met and married in Whanganui say their courtships consisted of going to dances at the boat clubs in Aramoho where there were live bands, playing songs like Three Coins in the Fountain and Memories are Made of This and supper for a half crown (25 cents).

A girl could ride her bicycle to a dance, said June Lints, and a nice boy might tie it to his bumper and drive her home afterwards.

If you had a wedding in 1958, you could expect to have your car decorated with shoe polish, eggs and tin cans.

Clive Sullivan said he parked his car in a secret location the night before his wedding and the Palmers were concerned that the rental car they were taking on their honeymoon would be damaged.

Newlyweds in those days were showered with paper confetti which could fall from suitcases or umbrellas months after the wedding.

The women say they kept their jobs after they married and worked as stay-at-home mothers after their first child was born, returning to work after their youngest started school.

Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are now scattered far and wide following careers and travelling.

"We raised them to be independent and confident in the world and they are out there making the most of things," said Joy Drummond.

And what are the secrets of six lasting marriages?

Tolerance, forgiveness, stickability and coping together through life's ups and downs are helpful qualities, they say.

"It also helps to always agree with your wife," added Dick Muirhead.

The couples plan to have a celebratory meal together at a Whanganui restaurant to mark a year to remember.