Sixty years and still laugh­ing

Kelvin Heights cou­ple cel­e­brates their long mar­riage

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By SUE FEA

It’s a big year for Frank and Mar­garet Aldridge – the cou­ple cel­e­brated their 60th wed­ding an­niver­sary on Jan­uary 14 and Mr Aldridge cel­e­brates his 90th birth­day in De­cem­ber. Times may have changed since this spritely South Otago farm­ing cou­ple first met, in 1950, but there are cer­tainly no signs of in­ac­tive old age in the Aldridge house­hold at Kelvin Heights, where they re­tired 30 years ago. At 89, Mr Aldridge still man­ages a large veg­etable garden and is renowned for his record-break­ing to­ma­toes and spuds. He was even re­cruited to sell his sought-af­ter or­ganic pars­ley to a Frank­ton cafe last year. Mrs Aldridge, 82, also man­ages a good-sized flower garden, is a won­der­ful cook and when younger was very keen on pho­tog­ra­phy, paint­ing and flo­ral art. But back in the 1950s and 1960s, when they were rais­ing a young fam­ily of three while farm­ing at Clin­ton, in South Otago, there was lit­tle time for hob­bies. ‘‘As soon as I was able I would be out in a storm help­ing with the lamb­ing,’’ Mrs Aldridge said. She’d be kept busy run­ning morn­ing and af­ter­noon teas across the pad­docks of their farm, which even­tu­ally grew to 178ha. Some­how Mr Aldridge man­aged to fit in time to play sport, of­ten trav­el­ling out of town to com­pete in rugby, ath­let­ics, ten­nis, cricket and later bowls. Mrs Aldridge has her mother to thank for 60 years of happy mar­riage. Her mother met the young farm worker from Hawke’s Bay on a South­land train and in­vited him to their Wood­lands farm to see how the job got done in the south. Three years later, in 1953, he mar­ried her daugh­ter at First Church in In­ver­cargill af­ter a six-month en­gage­ment. Mr Aldridge’s own wed­ding was the first he had at­tended, and when he saw his mates do­ing over his car with tin cans, con­fetti and graf­fiti, as was cus­tom­ary, he whipped his bride away smartly. ‘‘I didn’t want to go be­cause I hadn’t had a meal yet,’’ Mrs Aldridge laughed. They got as far as Moss­burn and her dress hat blew out the car win­dow, only to be re­turned in Te Anau by an ob­ser­vant fol­low­ing mo­torist. ‘‘We had a hi­lar­i­ous time.’’ They’ve had their dif­fer­ences but they’ve never got in the way. If they had a row Mr Aldridge would head out to his vege garden ‘‘for a bit of a scratch’’ to cool off. The cou­ple’s proud­est mo­ments have been hold­ing their new­born chil­dren, then seven grand­chil­dren and now two great­grand­chil­dren.

Photo: SUE FEA

Re­tired farm­ers: Cel­e­brat­ing 60 years of wed­ded bliss, Mar­garet and Frank Aldridge, of Queen­stown.

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