Mar­riage a lit­tle give and take

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Morgan

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.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM.

Still go­ing strong: Sixty-six years later, Bill and Myr­tle cel­e­brate an­other wed­ding an­niver­sary to­day.

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