Theyve been valentines for more than 60 years. The secret of their romantic success? Commitment, and a dash of humour.
Rita and Gerald Cranford have shared ups and downs, sorrows and joys during their 62 years together. Denise Pike/The Compass
New Harbour - February is known for its cold temperatures, but it always brings at least one day that can warm the heart - Valentine's Day.
Gerald and Rita Cranford of New Harbour have been each other's Valentine for nearly 62 years - 58 of them as husband and wife.
The couple says the secret to a long and happy marriage is accepting that there will be ups and downs, honouring the commitment they made to each other and maintaining a sense of humour.
Rita and Gerald sat down with The Compass a couple of days after their 58th wedding anniversary for a question and answer session to talk about some of their experiences as husband and wife.
Q: When, where and how did you first meet?
Rita: "We met in New Harbour at Pollett's Ice Cream Parlour and Gas Bar. That's where all the kids hung out at the time. I was 15 and he was around 19. I left the gas bar with my friend Betty and he walked us home."
Gerald: "Yes, I had planned on trying to get with her friend but I changed my mind and went with Rita instead."
Q: Do you remember your first kiss?
Gerald: "No I don't remember the first kiss exactly, but I can tell you this: I was going with her for a long time before we kissed, a couple of months for sure. I couldn't get handy to her like that! I was working in Argentia at the time but left that job to go to Buchans to work in the mine and she chased me - I couldn't get rid of her at all."
Rita: "That's not how it was at all. He was in Buchans missing me and heard of someone who needed a housekeeper. So, I went there to work."
Q: How did you propose to her?
Gerald: "I said Rita, let's get married."
Rita: "We picked out the engagement ring together."
(The couple were married Feb. 3, 1950 in the Salvation Army Church at Buchans. A small house reception was held that evening. They lived in Buchans for three years and then Rita moved back to New Harbour with their first child, Garry. Gerald continued working in the mines.)
Q: What were the early years of your marriage like?
Rita: "Oh, we had our share of troubles, like all couples, but we always worked through them. Probably one of the biggest challenges we had was a sick child. Garry had some serious health issues, and that was stressful, but thanks to the help of our parents and the Lord above we got through it and Garry was OK. He had to have several operations over the years but it all worked out."
Gerald: "I didn't get home much in those first few years. Out of 12 months, I got three days off for Christmas and two weeks' holiday. It wasn't much of a family life, but we made the best out of it."
(When Garry was four, the couple bought a house and Rita moved to Buchans. The couple had two other children, Paul and Boyd.)
Q: Did you always celebrate Valentine's Day?
Rita: "Yes … we always celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, too. This year for our anniversary I got a sewing machine and a bouquet of flowers. He got a coat."
Gerald: "I didn't need the coat and she took the sewing machine back. The flowers were good though. Our anniversary fell on a Sunday so we went to church and then to Fran's Kitchen in Dildo for dinner. We had a wonderful day."
Q: Did you ever forget each other's birthday?
Rita: "No, I never ever forgot, and he only forgot my birthday once. It was while we were living in Buchans. I was waiting for him to wish me Happy Birthday all day, but he didn't. Then finally, around quarter to nine that night, he said, 'Come on, Rita, we got to go to the store to get something for your birthday.' The only store in Buchans at that time was a hardware store, so I wasn't too impressed with that but I went anyway.
"As it happened, they had just gotten a big stock of wool in and I had a pattern for a bedspread that I wanted to make. He ended up buying 30 balls of wool for me but when I got home I found out that the pattern called for 60 balls of wool, so he had to go back and buy 30 more. After that, he never forgot my birthday again."
Q: Does Gerald have any annoying habits?
Rita: "Not a lot that I can think of. He doesn't listen too well, that drives me (at) times - having to repeat everything over and over to him."
Gerald: "I don't listen on purpose some of the time. Anyway, the only annoying thing about Rita is that she doesn't put enough water in the pots when she cooks. She is a wonderful cook and can bake good, too, but I keep wondering when in the world a ration was put on water here in New Harbour, because she is some tight on it. Once or twice she has even burned the pot right on the burner. I don't like that one bit."
Q: What advice can you offer to others on marriage?
Rita: "Spend time together. When we were living in Buchans and were younger we use to snowshoe, go in the woods on Ski-Doos and have boil-ups. We took the boys with us, too."
"Respecting each other is also very important. He has never gotten really mad with me or screamed and yelled or swore and I've never done it to him. There was none of that kind of stuff. We help each other out, too. He sometimes makes the bed - well, because he is in it longer than I am, and he cooks, too, but I always light the fire in the woodstove and help him bring in wood."
Gerald: "Be there for each other. We've seen our share of trouble and sadness but always stuck together and relied on each other to get through it. Our son Paul passed away, and both Rita and I have had serious health problems. She's been fighting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for 11 years and I've had stomach cancer. Many people, including her and me, never thought I was going to pull through. I lost a lot of weight and couldn't even walk, but during both our illnesses we took care of each other and nursed each other back to health. Please God we will get a few more years together. Our life has been pretty much what we hoped for. We have no regrets about what we've done."
Rita: He is my best friend and I am his. Taking care of each other has never been a burden for either of us. We have been blessed, too, and we're thankful to God for seeing us through and giving us our three children, four grandchildren and one great grandchild - all of (whom) are boys, but very soon we'll have a great grandbaby girl in the family. We can't wait for that.
"We also like being together. If I have something to do I want Gerald to do it with me, and he is the same. It has always been that way and if I have to go anywhere I want him to go along with me."
Gerald: "Just as well for me to want to go - don't really have a choice in the matter, because she doesn't know how to drive."