Life's better with each other: couple mark 50th anniversary
IT RAINED on Chris and Denise Chevis' wedding day on October 21, 1967 and it rained again on the same day 50 years later.
Though perhaps not their ideal way to spend their 50th anniversary last weekend, it was typical of the couple's stoic determination to get on with life no matter the circumstances.
The pair met as children at Kingston State School in Logan but admitted they never hit it off.
"It's not a big age difference, but he had his friends and I had mine,” Denise said.
"He was into his sport too - anything with a ball and bat, so we didn't really get along much with each other.”
When high school started, they were separated as Denise went to high school in Sunnybank and Chris headed to Beenleigh High School.
It wasn't long before they were going out together in groups of friends, and then just with each other.
"It just seemed to happen, I don't know how,” chuckled Mr Chevis.
"We had one favourite place, the Ritz Cafe, where we would go after the pictures, because Queen and Albert St had all the theatres, and we'd have spaghetti bolognaise there,” Mrs Chevis said.
"Chris' family is English and mine was German, so spaghetti was something we never had at home.
"There's only one old theatre there now.”
By the time Mrs Chevis was 18 and Mr Chevis was 20, the young lovers had decided it was time to wed.
"My parents weren't in much agreement but we thought we were compatible and we decided it would be a good thing to get married, so that's what we did,” Mrs Chevis said.
Mrs Chevis' parents weren't the couple's only challenge.
In 1967, Australia lacked voluntary manpower for the Vietnam War and had introduced a system known by many as the 'birthday ballot' which conscripted young men into service based on whether their birth date was drawn from the pool of eligible men.
"We were on edge the whole time,” Mr Chevis said.
"It was a real relief when my number didn't come up.”
"We think about it a lot, about what would happen if he was called up,” Mrs Chevis said.
"You see the effect it had on all the other families and you're thankful that by the grace of God, he never had to go.”
There was also a slight wardrobe issue on the big day.
Mrs Chevis had made her own wedding dress but had inadvertently trimmed a few too many centimetres off the bottom hem and the resulting gown finished just above her knee.
"It was in the 1960s style,” she said.
"Though it did give the priest a bit of a shock.”
Rain, war, parental disapproval, and bare knees couldn't stop Mr and Mrs Chevis from walking down the aisle hand-in-hand, just as their struggles afterwards couldn't stop them from reaching their golden anniversary.
In those early days, the newlyweds were often short of cash.
Mr Chevis' job as an apprentice moulder and Mrs Chevis' work in a clothing factory didn't earn the couple much, and things got especially hard with the arrival of their firstborn, a son.
"In those days, once you left a job, you wouldn't get it back,” Mrs Chevis said.
"There wasn't maternity leave or anything like that.
"It was a struggle, we struggled the whole time.”
Mr Chevis said though these were difficult times, he believed the hardship cemented their relationship.
"That's what kept us going, because you had to struggle and you had to get through it together,” he said.
They moved in with Mrs Chevis' parents for a while and lived in a number of places around the area before eventually settling in to live at Hatton Vale.
Now, Mr Chevis said they lived in absolute happiness.
"We've had some nice places, but my favourite spot would be here,” he said.
"Denise hand feeds the butcher birds who come up to the back door.
"We do everything together - we share the cooking, the gardening, everything.”
Though they do fight occasionally, the loved-up retirees said it's never long before they're best friends again.
"Sometimes we'd have a blazing row and then five minutes later, be talking nicely to each other again,” Mrs Chevis said.
"That was just us getting things off our chest.”
"If you're having an argument, just get it over with,” Mr Chevis agreed.
"Life's too short to fight.”
The Chevis' marked their anniversary at their home with about 70 guests on October 21.
They have a son and a daughter.