Marriage a little give and take
The war-time wedding of Bill and Myrtle Frazer could hardly be described as conventional.
But the couple, who are celebrating 66 years of marriage today, wouldn’t change a thing.
After the cancellation of Myrtle’s 21st birthday party after an argument with her father, Myrtle decided she wanted a wedding instead.
The only problem was that Bill, who met Myrtle through his sister, was stationed in Whangarei with the army during World War Two at the time.
“I didn’t even know I was getting married!” he says.
“You can’t just walk off an army camp site.”
Luckily Bill, now 86, managed to organise a few days leave and the pair became husband and wife at St Saviours Church in Blockhouse Bay, before honeymooning in Herne Bay.
Over the next few years the Blockhouse Bay residents didn’t see much of each other, with Bill’s army and air force postings sending him all over the country.
But that didn’t stop a determined Bill from seeing his bride whenever he could, with the most dedicated of his visits including a cycle trip from Whangarei to Auckland.
“You could catch the train but I missed it. I thought I could catch it at the next station, but it was just swamp,” he says. “I got back a day late and spent two days confined to barracks.
“It wasn’t the end of the world. we had nowhere to go anyway – on £7 a day you can’t buy much beer.”
Myrtle, 87, says it wasn’t easy with Bill away so much.
But her five sisters, three brothers and dad made it easier on her, even though he was a “firm old fella”.
After the war Bill set up a painting and paper-hanging business and built a house in Blockhouse Bay for Myr- tle and their three children, where they still live today.
“We moved in with the roof and the outside walls and floor done,” he says.
“Most of the interior walls were put up at night. The kids used to sleep through it all because they got used to the noise.”
In retirement, the pair have been active members of the Avondale RSA and keen bowlers.
As for what’s kept them together so long, Myrtle says there’s no real secret to a successful marriage.
“You’ve just got to have a lot of patience. It’s give and take.”
Bill also appreciates his wife’s skills around the house.
“She’s a great cook – it’s a lot better than the stuff we got in the services.”
Although two of their children died in recent years, the pair have five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren that they see regularly.
Newlyweds: Bill and Myrtle Frazer on their wedding day on June 27, 1942, at St Saviours Church in Blockhouse Bay.
Still going strong: Sixty-six years later, Bill and Myrtle celebrate another wedding anniversary today.