RIDLEY COUPLE TELL SECRETS OF A LONG MARRIAGE; THEY ARE CELEBRATING 70 YEARS OF WEDDED BLISS
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP >> Dominic and Armajean Liberatore don’t seem to quite understand all of the fuss over Valentine’s Day. The couple plans to “just watch television,” much like they do every day.
“We don’t need a special day to show our love,” Dominic said simply with a smile, as if the entire idea of Valentine’s Day is only for novices or newcomers to the love scene.
The Liberatores just celebrated a milestone 70 years of marriage on Jan. 29. They renewed their vows on Jan. 27 at St. Rose of Lima Church in Eddystone, in front of a church full of family and friends who, afterward, gathered at Lehman’s Restaurant in Essington for a special celebration. In addition to still being happy after seven decades as husband and wife, the couple has much to celebrate, including four children, 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren with one on the way.
Dominic, 91, and Armajean, 86, have built a legacy and countless treasured memories along the way, and it all started at the Great Leopard Skating Rink in Chester.
Dominic was 20 years old and had just returned to his hometown of Chester after serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. While stationed in California at Hamilton AFB
“We’ve had really happy years – no problems that I can think of. We always enjoyed everything that we did. Everywhere I go, I take her with me. We take care of one another.”
— Dominic Liberatore on his 70-year marriage to his wife Armajean
cated near a roller skating rink, Dominic said that he perfected his skating skills and enjoyed “waltzing with the girls.” After he was discharged, his cousin Al Bruno suggested they go over to Chester’s Great Leopard Skating Rink, which was located on the top floor of the Great Leopard Farmers Market in an old building on Penn Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets. Bruno said that he had met a girl and asked her out on a date and was going to meet her at the Great Leopard.
When the young men arrived, Bruno pointed out Armajean, as the girl he was meeting.
“I remember telling my cousin that she was a good-looking girl,” stated Dominic.
Armajean, or “Jean” as she is called by everyone who knows her, had taken the bus to the rink from Marcus Hook where she lived. She was 17 years old. Once they arrived at the rink, Dominic recalls Bruno rushing over to him to say that he wasn’t able to skate with Jean because another girlfriend of his had unexpectedly shown up. He asked Dominic to ask Jean to skate.
“She didn’t know how to roller skate at all,” Dominic laughed at the memory. “She was falling all over and I had to hold her up. She would sit out during the waltzes so I could waltz around the rink and then she would come back out on the rink with me to try to skate some more.”
When the skating session was over, Dominic offered Jean a ride home. His truck only had one seat so he put a box in the truck for her to sit on. He gave her his telephone number and said to call him if she decided to go skating again and he’d come pick her up. He never heard from her. In another week or so, he went back to the roller rink. He looked across the rink, and there she was.
“Why didn’t you call me?” he asked her. “If you want a ride home, I can drive you today again.” The rest became history.
The couple dated for one year, four months.
“I just thought the world of her,” Dominic shared with a smile. “And she was a good cook!”
“He was always a nice person,” Jean added. “He was very good to me. Back then and now, he always took good care of me.”
“One day, I said, ‘let’s get married’ and she said ‘OK,’” Dominic stated, again with simplicity.
Neither Dominic nor Jean , who both attended Chester High School, could remember where this proposal took place and no ring or fanfare were involved.
“That’s the way everything was back then, plain and simple,” explained Dominic.
The couple was married in Elkton, Md., by a justice of the peace. Al Bruno, the cousin who had brought them together, stood as their witness. Soon after, they were married by a priest at Saint Anthony’s Church in Chester, the parish where Dominic was raised and attended elementary school.
For their honeymoon, the Liberatores went to Delaware.
“We only had $30 to our name,” Dominic laughed at the memory, as he glanced lovingly at Jean. “We had a nice dinner and then went to a movie theater to see “Black Beauty” and that took all of our money. After that we were broke so we headed home because we couldn’t afford to stay over.”
The couple said that they had three flat tires, which they had to fix on the way back to Chester. They arrived home with only $2 in their pocket.
“By that time, we were hungry again,” chuckled Dominic. “So I took the $2, went to the corner store and bought us two hoagies and two sodas. I got 15 cents change. That was our honeymoon!”
The newlyweds rented an apartment on Third Street in Chester.
“The apartment was so small,” Jean remembered. “We had to go down a hallway to use a common bathroom with others.’
From there, they moved to Jeffrey Street in Chester, and then purchased a house in the Woodlyn section of Ridley Township in 1950, the same home that they still live in today. It was there that they raised their four children, Michael, Dominic, Ron and Judy.
Dominic worked at many places through the years – Phoenix Steel, Penn Steel, Lister Piano and Boeing. He even sold produce out of a truck. Jean worked as a cashier at Food Fair in Chester and later part-time at Wyeth Laboratories, but for many years she was a stayat-home mom. When he was 58 years old, Dominic was working as a diesel mechanic at a garage in Eddystone when he suffered a heart attack. After that, he was forced to go out on disability until retirement age.
In their younger years, the Liberatores lived a busy life. They had a mobile home at White House Beach on the Indian River in Rehoboth Beach, Del., for 30 years. They cooked and enjoyed time at the West End Boat Club when it was in Chester and they said they always enjoyed dancing.
“We always loved to dance, especially to polka,” Jean stated. “We would sometimes go out to Molly’s taproom in Boothwyn to dance on Friday nights. We would also enjoy dancing at people’s weddings.”
“My parents always loved to dance,” reiterated daughter Judy Lau. “As a married couple, they have been an inspiration and a really great role model to everyone in our family. We all have long marriages.”
Michael and Brenda Liberatore of Marlboro, N.J., have been married for 42 years. Dominic and Sharon Liberatore of Wilmington, Del., have been married for 46 years. Ron and Debbie Liberatore of Ridley Township have been married for 40 years, and Judy and David Lau of Wilmington have been married for 31 years.
These days, Dominic and Jean say that they enjoy an occasional lunch or dinner out, attending church at nearby St. Rose’s and spending time with their family.
“Luckily, we have a really large family so there are always birthdays and other occasions for them to constantly be getting together with family,” daughter Judy said. “Trust me, they rarely miss any of them!”
Due to health problems, Jean no longer drives, but it’s not a problem, they both said, because they do everything together.
“There’s nothing that my parents do without one another,” Lau stated. “If they are apart for half an hour, they start worrying about when they are going to be reunited. They have always been inseparable and taken good care of each other.”
Asked what they love about their spouse and how they have managed to weather all that life has thrown their way, the ups and the downs of everyday life, and still be happy at the 70-year mark, both Dominic and Jean thought for a moment, letting the question soak in, before answering.
“We’ve had really happy years – no problems that I can think of,” Dominic said. “We always enjoyed everything that we did. Everywhere I go, I take her with me. We take care of one another.”
“We love each other,” Jean interjected. “Don’t we?”
“I think so,” Dominic chuckled as he glanced lovingly at Jean. “I think so!”
Ridley Township residents Jean and Dominic Liberatore are celebrating 70 years of marriage.
Jean and Dominic Liberatore stand outside of their Woodlyn home. The couple recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Ridley Township residents Jean and Dominic Liberatore, who celebrated 70 years of marriage on Jan. 29, have always enjoyed dancing. Here, the couple is pictured dancing at their granddaughter’s recent wedding at Normandy Farm in Blue Bell.
The now-defunct Great Leopard Roller Skating Rink in Chester is where the Liberatores first met in the 1940s. They are now married seven decades, have four children, 13 grandchildren and eight greatgrandchildren.
Armajean and Dominic Liberatore sit together in a swing outside their Woodlyn home last week, getting some fresh air and sunshine on a mild winter day.
Dominic and Jean Liberatore, married 70 years, share conversation last week outside of the home in Ridley Township that they bought in 1950.