A symphony of love
A blind date more than 70 years ago has turned into one of the most enduring marriages in Cairns. Fred and Hazel Schipke (above) are celebrating 70 years of love.
A BLIND date more than 70 years ago has turned into one of the most enduring marriages in Cairns.
Redlynch lass Hazel Tenni was 20 when she married former army bugler and engineer Fred Schipke at St John’s Anglican Church in Cairns on November 8, 1947. Fred was 24 and not long back from WWII.
Each was quickly captivated by the other but it was music that sealed the deal. On the day they met, Hazel visited Fred’s family home and started playing the piano. He got his cornet out and joined her.
“Even at our wedding, we were on stage entertaining our guests,” says Fred, now 94.
They formed their own band, Hazel Schipke’s Dance Band, and became sought after for country dances, weddings and race meetings.
“They played at Cooktown, Coen, Laura, Oak Park and Cairns Amateurs every year,” says daughter Robyn Brettell.
She remembers a childhood full of music, fun and friends.
“When I was little, we slept at our grandparents’ in Redlynch on Fridays and Saturdays. Mum and dad would come out on Sunday mornings and we’d have a family day at Nan and Pop Tenni’s.
“But I never felt we missed out on anything because of their music and commitments. We had a great family life.”
When she and sister Julie were older, they went to some of the dances, learning to waltz, gypsy tap and even the twist to their parents’ music.
“Mum, Dad and the band would all come home at one or two in the morning, have tea and cake and talk about what a great night they’d had. They had some lovely friends, most of them musical in some way.”
While the band retired after 49 years, Fred and Hazel didn’t. A member of Cairns brass bands for 82 years, Fred only stopped playing three years ago. Hazel, now 90, will play at this year’s Meals on Wheels Christmas lunch.
“Both have absolutely loved every moment they played,” says Robyn. “And people loved them too. Mum could never fit everything in their calendar.”
The couple’s 70 years of marriage have produced two daughters, four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
OFF ON RIGHT NOTE: Fred and Hazel Schipke receive a musical guard of honour at their 1947 wedding. BELOW: Fred and Hazel give one of their many performances at a Cairns retirement village.