James and Mary Godden married on Valentine’s day 60 years ago and the love between them still shines through as clearly as a Bendigo blue sky.
One of the best questions you can ask a married couple is about the circumstances under which they met.
When a young teenager Mary, now 83, worked in the Woodend milkbar and it just happened that young Jim, now 85, became awfully fond of milkshakes.
One day, a mate of Jim’s came into the milkbar and said these famous words, “Jim says he’ll walk you home tonight.”
Jim actually chickened out on that occasion but it was when they both went to the regular fire brigade dances that they found each other.
One of their favourite pastimes when they were courting was to go to the pictures, but Jim would sometimes disappear.
“He’d say he was going out for a Pollywaffle and a Sporting Globe and half the time wouldn’t come back. He’d be out with his mates studying the form guide,” Mary laughed.
But Mary had resources of her own, she was a keen photographer and a skilled craftswoman.
The wedding day itself was dependant on getting Mary’s father to the church on time, before the pubs opened.
“He liked a drink. The train came in at 9.30am and we had the wedding at 10.30am just to head off any trouble.” Jim said.
They married at St Ambrose Church and had the wedding breakfast at Devon Lodge in Woodend.
Jim and Mary have a chuckle together and it’s evident that playfulness and a sense of humour has had much to do with binding them together over the years.
Apart from getting the train to play for the Carlton football team, Jim also worked for many years for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
Mary in the meantime had their first child, Peter. Shortly before he was due to turn 12, Peter was killed in a train accident. It is not only humour which has kept Jim and Mary together, but pain.
“Some couples break up after a terrible loss like we had, but we looked after each other,” Mary said.
“I remember Jim said to me one morning, look out the window, see that bloke on his tractor? He goes past every morning. That’s just like life, it goes on. Just like we will go on.”
The couple have three other children – Brenda, Kerri and Valda, as well as nine grandchildren.
Peter is buried in Daylesford with his grandparents and Jim and Mary go to see him about every three months.
“We would never go past and not call in to see him,” Mary said.
Jim and Mary have been living in Bendigo for the past nine years to be closer to their family and medical facilities.
“We’ve had a knee done each, different sides,” Jim laughs.
They’ve received a card of congratulations from the prime minister and are now waiting on the Queen.
They will spend this weekend celebrating their diamond anniversary with their family and friends, and no doubt, thinking of Peter.
– Dianne Dempsey