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The Magnusons have been married for 46 years.

In an occasional series, some great Island couples tell us how they’ve made marriages last. We salute the stamina, love, good will and compromise required of couples who stay together for a long time. Debbie and Eric Magnuson were married on October 12, 1968, at the Lambert’s Cove Church.

How did you meet? Eric was my sister’s classmate. He is five years older, and I knew him from West Tisbury School.

Who proposed and how? It was a mutual decision — we went together two years.

The Magnusons started dating, and got married, in the sixties. — Photos courtesy of Deb & Eric Mag
The Magnusons started dating, and got married, in the sixties. — Photos courtesy of Deb & Eric Mag

Describe your Vineyard wedding. Small — Lambert’s Cove Church doesn’t hold too many people, so some guests were just invited to the reception at Chilmark Community Center. Decorations were big crepe paper flowers and streamers. We had an Island band, my Dad knew them. Annie Kelly, good family friend, catered it with simple food and punch. My Dad, who liked his drinks, snuck a bottle of something into one bowl of punch and almost gave Annie a heart attack — she was a teetotaller.

How many children? Did any of them stay here? We have two children. Sara was our firstborn and she has given us two wonderful grandchildren — Ashleigh, 20,  and Michael, 17. She lives very near us with her husband, Paul, and the kids. Eric, our second child, has a wonderful family. Wife, Ginger, and boys Ryan, 16, and Owen, 13. They live in Burlington. And we see them as much as we can.

Do you both work? Eric has retired from carpentry but does caretaking, and we have an orchard so that keeps him busy. Debbie had a career of 31 years as a hairdresser, and retired to take care of the babies, newborn to three years. My dream job!

Briefly describe your years together – the good, the bad, and the wonderful….. 45 years of wedded bliss? Yes, most of the time!

The Good: Parenting together, but that was also challenging! We had trips with the kids, trips with just the two of us, which we believe are important. We’ve had a few surgeries but are basically healthy, and looking forward to many more years together.

Has the Vineyard been the best place to live your lives together? A resounding YES!

Why? We both were born here and love the Island, the seasons, the people. I love that when I go to the store or the PO I always run into friends to chat with for a minute. The Island pulls together for others in tragedy and illness. We feel so lucky to live where we do in W.T.

If you had one piece of advice to a couple about to be married, what would it be? Trust, respect, love, care, Golden Rule, go on short trips together — no kids. And date night.

Married almost 40 years.

Tim and Eileen Maley, 1975 — Photo courtesy of Tim and Eileen Maley

As summer proceeds, and along with it the Island’s wedding season, some great Island couples tell us how they’ve made marriages last. This is the second in an occasional series that salutes the stamina, love, good will and compromise required of couples who stay together for a long time.

Timothy and Eileen Maley were married on Valentines Day, February 14, 1976.

Where were you married? In Tom and Helen’s living room; reception in the Field Gallery.

Tim and Eileen Maley, 1976
Tim and Eileen Maley, 1976

How did you meet? (Tim) I’d gone to Haight Ashbury in 1968 and lived there for several years. Now I just had to extricate myself. So, I went to teach in Sydney, Australia. I booked the last voyage of the SS Iberia and never looked back. The love of my life embarked on the ship in Vancouver.

(Eileen) I was Canadian, met Tim on board the ship in Vancouver (he had boarded in San Francisco) — we were both heading for Australia. After working less than a year in Sydney, we decided to head home, the long way. We traveled through 40-pus countries, third class through the third world, and ended up here two and a half years later, our blue jeans and our cultural sensibilities in shreds.

Who proposed and how? (Tim) Eileen had applied for a green card and was denied. America, it seems, already had enough writers. I was highly incensed and said “%*&#@ them, let’s get married.” She shrugged her shoulders and said okay.

Describe your Vineyard wedding – (Eileen) Impromptu. The government was going to throw me out. It was February on the Vineyard. We didn’t formally invite anyone — they just showed up, word of mouth, as no one had been anywhere since New Year’s Eve. Unitarian minister Max Kapp came by to officiate in Tom and Helen’s living room. I wore a dress I’d made from silk bought in Bangkok and spring flowers came from Farmer Green. From there, we had a reception in the field gallery. No decorations, just lots of good potluck food and drink, and a rousing good party.

How many children? Did any of them stay here? Just Chloe. She lives with a wonderful housemate, Stephanie Brothers, and Stephanie’s daughter Annabelle. They’re our family, our girls.

Do you both work? We did. We’re retired now but active in separate directions during the day.

Maley wedding, 1976.
Maley wedding, 1976.

Briefly describe your years together – the good, the bad, and the wonderful….. (Tim) I bet that most couples of longtime marriages say “He/she is my best friend.” It may be a bromide, but it’s accurate. Eileen is the person to whom I am closest, and marriage is better than just living together. It’s a fine institution.

There have been times of stress, even great stress. We have a child with fairly severe autism, but that has made our bond as husband and wife even more cemented. I’ve got to say it’s all been wonderful.

Has the Vineyard been the best place to live your lives together? Why?

(Tim) We’ve lived our lives together all over the planet, but this nest is best.
(Eileen) This past winter we spent many evenings in front of an open fire in the wood stove, fully aware of just feeling contented. We’re probably between crises of some sort — who isn’t — but there’s a strong feeling of being settled, and we are ready to roll with the next punch that comes along.

photo.JPGTim has long strong roots in this town, and I’ve been here a mere 40 years. We have a home we rebuilt and made for ourselves. Our mortgage is paid off. We have good dear friends we’ve had for decades and a family we absolutely love in the same town. In general, there’s a solid feeling of belonging.

If you had one piece of advice to a couple about to be married, what would it be? (Tim) Similarities attract? Yes, I say. And laughter. Marry a partner a bit brighter than you are.

(Eileen) Marry the perfect partner, but never forget that nobody is perfect. Say ‘thank you’ a lot; ‘please,’ not so much.

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Friends from MVRHS reunited at Ryan Maciel's May 31st wedding. From left to right: Christopher Kennedy, Charlie Nadler, Albion Alley, Nicholas Schilcher, Alexander Schilcher. — Tom Drewell

One of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day, follows Bill Murray as he relives the same day over and over again. As I prepare to leave my twenties in the dust this summer, I find myself in a similar situation that I like to call Groundhog Weekend: all of my friends are getting married and they refuse to stop. Yes, there are some Saturdays and Sundays without nuptials, but they often include bachelor parties or me locking myself in my apartment using my taxed out, maxed out credit card as a coaster.

Here is a typical day in the life of Charlie Nadler, Professional Wedding Invitee. I wake up and field texts, emails, and facebook messages asking for my current address. Next I arrive at work and put in at least seven new requests for time off. Then I come home and empty the save-the-date receptacle outside my apartment building, promptly checking corresponding airfares and perusing online gift registries. Almost all of these registries list trash cans as a requested item. What is it with unmarried people not owning good trash cans?

I know we are at “that age,” but this is a deluge. It’s like when someone stops the pressure in a hose and finally lets loose. I feel like Cupid watched over all my high school and college friends and went “Bad dates…imperfect relationships…unhappy endings….Okay let’s finally do this, EVERYBODY GETS THE ONE!” That’s the only possible explanation for the current state of my calendar.

The rewarding part about being a Professional Wedding Invitee has been the inevitable ascension into a Professional Wedding Attendee, borrowing skills from a variety of professions: knowing what to pack like a seasoned flight attendant, pacing my hydration like a marathon runner, and most importantly, plotting how to intercept each and every tray of hors d’oeuvres like a Navy Seal.

The best aspect of these events — besides forever love of course — are the reunions of friends from many different chapters of my life. We don’t get to see each other regularly anymore and our lives have changed immensely. The laughs, though, have not aged a minute. In between the revelry we lament our busy schedules and hope that once everyone makes it down the aisle — and our Google calendars stop looking like they’ve been hacked by spambots — we will be able to reunite more often.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining. It’s just strange being behind the curve. As more and more of my friends exchange vows, I feel increasingly like the youngest kid in high school who is last to get his learner’s permit. A lot of good is coming out of this cake-laden chapter, though. We are all happy and having fun, especially my dry cleaner, who will soon be able to put a downpayment on a Ferrari.

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Caroline Mayhew gets married, up-Island style.

Marching Down Music Street, from left: Jack Mayhew, Caroline, Daniel, Daniel's sisters Toni and Damarise Johnson. Toni's husband Scott Moulder is the tall man visible behind. — Photo by Sarah Mayhew

At about 4 pm on Saturday, June 14, 2014, people living on Music Street in West Tisbury looked out their windows and saw a long procession coming out of the playground next to the town hall. About a hundred people headed down the street, walking, not marching — there was no band, or any music, only Tom Hodgson, who seemed to be leading them toward the entrance to Look’s Pond Way, where they turned left and proceeded down the dirt lane.

What was going on? They all looked happy and were chatting with each other as they walked — some were even holding hands.

Tom-Dan-Caroline.jpgTall, short, thin, fat, old, young, white, black, Asian — there seemed to be no pattern to help an onlooker figure out who they represented. But I knew — they were all friends and family members of Caroline Mayhew and Daniel Johnson, who were leading them all, behind Mr. Hodgson, who would marry them when they arrived at their destination. Caroline is my granddaughter and Daniel has been her loving companion for 12 years — since they met at Simon’s Rock College.

I, too old to parade down Music Street, had sneaked in by car and took a seat on the edge of Look’s Pond to await them. There they came, through the yard of the house I had lived in for 55 years, past the stone wall, and down to the lower edge of the field. Some of them filled the dozen chairs that had been set up and others spread blankets on the ground to sit on, much like a beach party.

This was the spot Caroline had chosen for her wedding ceremony because her parents, my son, Jack, and his wife, Betsey, had been married here on the edge of Look’s Pond almost 30 years ago, in 1984. This was going to be a very unconventional  ceremony – Caroline and Dan had asked Tom Hodgson to marry them via the one-day privilege Massachusetts will grant to anyone who fills out the proper forms, pays the small fee, and gets a letter of recommendation from someone attesting that this is a good person to do the job. I wrote that letter, as I had known Tom since he was five years old.

Daniel Johnson and Caroline Mayhew.
Daniel Johnson and Caroline Mayhew.

When everyone was settled down, my youngest granddaughter, Katie Mayhew, opened with a song called Picture in a Frame; middle granddaughter Lucy Mayhew, Caroline’s sister, accompanied her on guitar. Tom then spoke very kindly about Caroline and Daniel and how committed they are to each other. Another song followed called One Voice. It was harmonized by my daughter Deborah, Katie, Leah Shearer, and Toni Johnson, Daniel’s sister.

Caroline spoke to the crowd, made up of her family, Daniel’s family, school friends of both of them, friends of Jack and Betsey, neighbors, and two people from Caroline’s law firm in Washington, D.C. In the crowd Ohio, California, Texas, North Carolina and probably a few other states were represented. Her talk thanked each group who had helped her along the way to this moment in her life. Daniel spoke in the same vein, with sincere thanks to his family and all his friends for being in West Tisbury to help him and Caroline celebrate this momentous occasion.

Caroline’s mother, Betsey, spoke and then her Aunt Deborah, who had collected some quotes about marriage from some famous people. She quoted Franz Schubert who once said, “Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.” Caroline and Daniel have had 12 years to cement their friendship as they start on their life together as husband and wife. Caroline’s sister, Lucy, also spoke, welcoming Daniel into the family.

A real up-Island event – standing, from left: Tom Hodgson, Deborah Mayhew, Daniel and Caroline Mayhew and Jack Mayhew.
A real up-Island event – standing, from left: Tom Hodgson, Deborah Mayhew, Daniel and Caroline Mayhew and Jack Mayhew.

When Lucy finished, the bride and groom exchanged vows and rings. Daniel had designed their rings, made of silver with a small inscription on each. Yellow and blue were the colors of the day; the sun and the moon their symbols. Caroline’s ring was engraved with a moon and a small blue sapphire: Dan’s had a sun and a small yellow sapphire. They had found a jeweler in Alaska who made them to order.

No long white dress with veil for the bride and no tuxedo for the groom. Comfort came first. Claire Aquila, a costume designer and friend from New York City had designed a lovely pant suit for Caroline; Daniel wore a grey vest over a bright yellow shirt, blue jeans and sneakers.

When Tom concluded the service and the couple had each answered “I do,” he asked the congregation to agree that this was a good union and we all shouted, “We do!”

A song called We Are Gonna Be Friends, sung by Deborah and her daughter Katie, accompanied by Lucy on the guitar, concluded the ceremony, and everyone left to retrieve their cars while Eli Dagostino, the official photographer, took the formal family photographs near the pond. My daughter Sarah, who grew up working in my darkroom, is also an accomplished photographer, and she could be seen dashing around taking candid shots.

The Bodes played at the reception.
The Bodes played at the reception.

But wait — that was not the end. We all found our way to Jack and Betsey’s house in North Tisbury, where a huge tent had been set up and tables for eight arranged under it. Smaller tents for sleeping were sprinkled on the other side of the house for those who preferred not to (or couldn’t) spend big money for overnight accommodations  A badminton net was strung across the backyard, and one end of the tents was set up and amplified for the music that would take place after dinner. West Tisbury weddings — and sometimes West Tisbury memorial services — often have local musicians as part of the program. In this case it would be The Bodes — four middle-aged men who had started the group while in the regional high school, some 45 years ago. One of them was Jack Mayhew, Caroline’s father.

As dusk settled, the ambience was festive with twinkling lights strung among the trees and bushes surrounding the house — the music was rock and roll and the dancing began — not on a dance floor, but on the lawn. Katie sang four songs with the Bodes and Lucy joined them on the keyboard for several songs. This was truly an Island wedding — potluck dinner with smoked bluefish and smoked chicken by Aunty Sarah (who had been taught well by her father); pulled pork, grilled chicken, and lobster salad by Betsey; rice and salads and breads brought by guests — and, not a traditional wedding cake, but dozens of cheesecake and flourless chocolate cupcakes made by the bride over the winter and frozen until June 14th.

The decorations on each table were designed and made by members of the family and their friends — a tree stump topped with a candle in the middle surrounded by small clay animals — all animals and birds found on the Vineyard. Garlands of ivy surrounded the stumps which were what remained of a spruce tree in their front yard that had to be sacrificed when their solar panels were installed. They had saved the trunk and Caroline helped saw it into the right sizes with her dad’s chain saw. The little animals were made from clay that didn’t need baking – friends and family had been turning them out, a few at a time, for months.

Caroline didn’t want paper party ware — she wanted real china and glass glasses. She put out the word to the members of her family and all her friends to scour their local thrift shops and pick up plates and dessert dishes with any blue on them. Her dad, Jack, started collecting empty wine bottles from a local restaurant, cutting them down to size, and polishing the edges to a smooth finish. By Christmas the house started to fill up with odds and ends of blue and white china dishes and wine bottle/glasses. The freezer filled up with delicious cupcakes. Betsey had bought fabric from The Heath Hen Shop and made up all the napkins tied up with twine.

This was truly a Vineyard wedding — recycled dinnerware and wine bottles, recycled spruce tree that had grown to 40 feet from the day that Jack had planted it in their yard many years before, a wedding location that was very meaningful to the whole family, especially for the bride’s parents, homemade decorations and delicious food from everyone who attended.

And a final convention discarded — instead of the bride taking her husband’s name, the groom took his bride’s name and became Daniel Mayhew. He is a wonderful addition to our family.

Married for almost 50 years.

Herb and Jane Slater were married almost fifty years ago in the family home in Chilmark. — Courtesy Jane Slater

As June proceeds, and along with it the Island’s wedding season, some great Island couples tell us how they’ve made marriages last. This is the first in an occasional series.

My parents celebrated 50 years of marriage two years before my father died, but it was a rare occasion among their friends. My generation (the “Greatest Generation?”) might have been the first one — and possibly the last one — to routinely celebrate long, enduring marriages. The women of my generation came of marriageable age just as WWII ended, and the returning veterans were eager to make up for the almost four years they had lost fighting in Europe and the Pacific. I was 21 when I married Johnny Mayhew – two of my friends were 19 when they married right out of high school, and half of my college friends were engaged while in college. Others, like myself, dropped out of college to be married.

My daughters grew up during a time of turmoil in this country – Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, the Vietnam War. Customs and long habits changed – women began to seek careers and put off marriage until their 30s. Couples began to live together without the blessings of a minister or a Rabbi — some of those relationships lasted; some didn’t.

Our children gave us a wonderful party when we celebrated 60 years together, and we have friends who have passed that mark already. It takes stamina, patience, good-will, and lots of compromise, as well as love, to live with someone for such a long time. We salute those who have proved that they have qualities we all admire.

Shirley Mayhew

Herb and Jane (Neumann) Slater, married Sept. 12, 1964, in the family home on State Road in Chilmark.

How did you meet? We met when I was working at the Menemsha gas station one summer and Herb and his family came into Menemsha on the Aloysius for a season of swordfishing…

Who proposed and how? We don’t remember a proposal…just that one weekend when I was visiting his family home in Barrington, Rhode Island from my apartment in New York City, he generously let me mow the lawn with a new riding mower…while he disappeared and reappeared later with a ring [he] then offered me!

Describe your Vineyard wedding: Our Vineyard wedding was a gathering of friends and family of about 35 or 40 with intentions of an indoor wedding and an outdoor reception. But it was pouring that day so some friends quickly arranged with the selectmen to use the community center and they decorated it with local greens and that’s where we went from the house following the service done by my New York cousin, a Lutheran minister. The cake was made by a summer friend in the shape of the sword fishing yacht, Aloysius, and was the hit of the party!  It was complete with string rigging and more.

How many children? Did any of them stay here? We have Caleb and Sarah Jane. Caleb lives and works in Northbridge and Sarah has a Boston job and lives with her family in Attleboro. Both will tell you they are from Chilmark. They have long roots and love it and will eventually return here to live.

Briefly describe your years together – the good, the bad, and the wonderful… The years together have been just that…good, bad, and wonderful. The hard years were the caregiving to aged parents, both his and mine, and the good years were and are watching the lives of the kids unfold.

Has the Vineyard been the best place to live your lives together? We lived off-Island during Herb’s working years but always came home at every opportunity. We built our relationships with Vineyard connections and lived as if we were here even when we weren’t. All our lasting friendships are here and have always been.

Why? It was just a fit…for Herb and his interest in the sea and fishing and for me with an eye to my Vineyard connections from way back…I feel connected.

If you had one piece of advice to a couple about to be married, what would it be? Hire a professional photographer, don’t depend on guests to take good pictures! And, really, if it feels right it probably is…even if you doubt it sometimes.

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Judy and Steve Nichols with their wedding party at the Grace Episcopal Church. Judy says she was drawn to his "big blue eyes" (and he could "jitterbug with the best of them.") The group, from left to right: Anne Nichols (Perry), maid of honor (Steve's sister); Martha Jane Santos, bridesmaid (Judy's sister); Judith Illingworth Nichols, bride; Stephen Nichols, groom; John Nichols, best man (Steve's brother); Leo Amaral, usher. — courtesy Judy and Steve Nichols

Norma and Edson Rodgers
Norma Norton of Edgartown and Edson Rodgers of Vineyard Haven were teenagers on July 4, 1954. When the Edgartown Fourth of July parade approached, Norma ran out for a look and her life changed forever. Now, more than 50 years later, the romance that began that day has endured for the Edgartown couple.

A retired Navy musician and music instructor, Mr. Rodgers, trumpet in hand, is a familiar musical presence at many events. He is a summer tour guide and both are active at Trinity Methodist Church.

“Edson, a trumpet player, was marching with the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps. Norma worked summers in the Edgartown telephone office. That day she took her break and walked out to Main Street to see the parade pass by,” wrote Ms. Rodgers in a reminiscence for the Times.

“As she stood there Edson stepped right out of the parade line and asked her to go on a date with him to the movies. They were 15 when this happened, and now they have been married 53 years.”

“I had noticed him. Edson was a friend of my friend Porky Francis,” said Ms. Rodgers. “I told him, ‘I like your friend. I’d like to meet him.’ But I was surprised. I didn’t know he was going to do that at the parade.”

They dated during high school. Then Edson joined the Navy and left for Washington, D.C. to attend the Naval School of Music. Norma enrolled at Chandler School for Women in Boston.

“He would come see me. We decided we needed to get married.”

Norma and Edson were married on Dec. 26, 1960 at the Whaling Church where her grandparents and parents had been married.

Norma and Edson Rodgers met while he marched in the Edgartown Fourth of July parade, married at the Whaling Church in December of 1956, then left on the Islander for their honeymoon in Pensacola, Florida.
Norma and Edson Rodgers met while he marched in the Edgartown Fourth of July parade, married at the Whaling Church in December of 1960, then left on the Islander for their honeymoon in Pensacola, Florida.

Both only 21, the newlyweds boarded the Islander for their honeymoon trip. They headed to Pensacola, Florida where Edson was a Navy musician. That began a life with the Navy that took them from Florida to Washington D.C., Virginia, and finally Newport, R.I. Ms. Rodgers worked for the Navy Relief Corps caring for children.

“We had four children and enjoyed them,” said Ms. Rodgers about some of the best parts of their married life. “I’ve always liked going to his concerts. And we enjoy doing a lot of things together, going to the beach, going fishing.”

“I think it was right away when we realized we were in love, when we met at 15. We never forgot about that. We never forgot about one another.”

Today they live the old family home where Ms. Rodgers grew up, once owned by her grandfather, Orin Norton. The house is only steps from Main Street and the parade route where their story all began.

Greg and Heidi Pachico
Once carefree high school sweethearts, Heidi and Greg Pachico of West Tisbury now are busy parents of two with demanding jobs and responsibilities. But they still enjoy being together. They celebrated their eighteenth wedding anniversary Monday, Feb. 3.

Greg is Manager of Cronig’s Meat Department where he has worked since 1984. A longtime member of the West Tisbury Fire Department, he has just been named Assistant Fire Chief. Heidi works at Conroy Apothecary and is training to become a certified pharmacy technician.

Greg and Heidi Pachico met at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School and got married in a blizzard, on February 3, 1996.
Greg and Heidi Pachico met at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and got married in a blizzard, on February 3, 1996.

Heidi Estrella and Greg Pachico of West Tisbury got together in 1988 as students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. She was a freshman, he a junior. They had met through Heidi’s older brother, Manny Estrella, IV.

“He was my friend. Heidi was the little sister, always being around,” laughed Greg.

Spending time with groups of friends, the two saw a lot of each other.

“We’d always hang out after school, and often played basketball. She and her friends were into sports as well,” Greg recalled.

Things changed when friends began talking. “I heard people say ‘she likes you.’ ‘Oh, I like her too,’ – that old high school stuff.”

“Once we found that out we started talking together more. And it just kind of grew from there.

“She was always a very attractive girl to me. We had common interests, especially sports. That was the biggest commonality. But I never really thought about her because she was my buddy’s sister.

“She was my type. But it just wasn’t thought about because of that friendship. But Manny was fine with it.”

They dated through high school, “just hanging out at each other’s houses, going to dinner, the movies.” They shared their love of sports. Heidi played soccer and basketball; Greg was on the baseball team.

Then they split up. Heidi headed to Endicott College in Beverly. Greg remained on the Vineyard.

“We got back together while she was still in college, in 1993, the year she graduated. We kind of knew at that point it was each other we wanted to be with.”

Heidi and Greg were married in the midst of a blizzard on Feb. 3, 1996 at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Edgartown.

“A lot of people had a hard time getting to the wedding, including Heidi. She was almost an hour late. I’ll never forget it.”

The bride had slipped in the snow leaving her parents’ home and had to have her dress put back in order.

“It’s not a good feeling when you’re the groom standing in front of the church with everyone looking at you,” said Greg with a chuckle. At last, Heidi arrived and the wedding could begin.

Afterwards, some 150 family members and friends made their way through falling snow for a reception at the Atlantic Connection. The storm didn’t stop the couple’s honeymoon plans.

“We rented a limo to take us to Boston. We were the only vehicle on the boat. What a weird feeling that is!” They flew off the next morning for Florida to begin a 10-day cruise and a week at Disney World.

The Pachicos built a home in West Tisbury in 1997. They have two daughters, Amanda, 14, and Andrea, 11.

Is Greg surprised that it’s been 18 years since they got married?

“Absolutely! All the time. The kids make you realize that by how old they are already. It doesn’t seem possible. It’s unbelievable how the time just flies!

“We enjoy each other’s company,” said Greg, “We’re not really outgoing people, we don’t go out and socialize a lot. We hang out together and with close-knit friends.

“It’s true love, I guess you’d say. We’re each other’s best friends.”

Judy and Stephen Nichols

During their 57 years of marriage and five children Judy and Stephen Nichols of Vineyard Haven have had their share of ups and downs, but plenty of love and good times too. Judy is retired from 20 years as M. V. Hospital Emergency Room receptionist and an active member of Grace Episcopal Church. Steve, an officer at the Edgartown Court House and school crossing guard, retired after years in the trucking business.

Judy and Steve Nichols of Vineyard Haven were married 57 years ago at Grace Episcopal Church.
Judy and Steve Nichols of Vineyard Haven were married 57 years ago at Grace Episcopal Church.

“I met Steve through his sister, Anne. I was chums with her in school,” reminisced Ms. Nichols. She had come to the Island from Rhode Island at 13 to live with her grandmother, Hilda Cottle Stevens, and great-grandmother, Nellie Cottle.

“He was four years older. I met him in the old A&P.

“I went in to get hot dogs and he waited on me. I should have kept running,” she laughed.

They socialized with friends but didn’t go out on dates alone together.

“He went into the Army, stationed in Dachau, Germany. He was a Morse Code radio operator. When he came home he started working for Carroll’s Trucking. Then we started dating.

“Steve kept calling me. We’d go out to the movies or bowling. The big thing was to go to the diner for an ice cream soda.

“It was those big blue eyes. That’s what did it! And he’s a very good dancer. He could jitterbug with the best of them. And he went to church every Sunday.

“One night he handed me a diamond he got at McInnis Jewelers. We set a date. The rest is history.

“We were married on July 9, 1956 at Grace Episcopal Church. The Rev. Thomas Henry Lehman married us. It was a small wedding, the reception was in the church. My grandmother and neighbors put everything together. Leona White made our wedding cake.

“Steve has always been a hard worker. He’s a good father. He’s always been willing to travel — and we went everywhere! We had good times! Even when I was 17, I felt that when I get married, this is for life. I’m going into this for the long haul. And I am, and he is.”

Penny Wong and Aguimar Carlos

Penny Wong’s father is Chinese, her mother a New Englander and she grew up in Connecticut. Her husband, Aguimar Carlos, comes from Minas, Brazil. Although their backgrounds are diverse they have successfully negotiated these differences during 20-plus years of marriage.

Ms. Wong is director at Grace Preschool and Mr. Carlos principle owner of Ride On Mopeds in Oak Bluffs. They live in Vineyard Haven.

Penny Wong and Aguimar Carlos met at The Golden Dragon in the summer of 1989. Penny's mom took this photo of them at the ferry in 1990, when Penny moved to the Island to live with Aguimar.
Penny Wong and Aguimar Carlos met at The Golden Dragon in the summer of 1989. Penny’s mom took this photo of them at the ferry in 1990, when Penny moved to the Island to live with Aguimar.

“It was in 1989, just before my senior year at Connecticut College, and my friend had invited me to come live and work on the Island for the summer. I got a job waitressing at The Golden Dragon/Subs Ahoy in Vineyard Haven.

“Back then, the restaurant was much nicer, with many local people coming in for lunch and live jazz every Monday night. It was a colorful place to work. The owners, the Kims from Korea, worked at the counter; the Chinese men who spoke both Cantonese and Mandarin cooked the main meals worked in the back, and in the middle were two brothers from Brazil who made subs and fried food.

“One of the brothers, Aguimar Carlos, and I spent a lot of time talking during the down times when the place was not that busy.

“We often talked about how difficult it was for him to be a new immigrant and be so far away from family, a situation similar to what my own father had been through when he came to the U.S. at 16 by himself. I immediately saw a caring and determined individual, which was what attracted me to him.

“On my last night on the Island he finally asked me for a date. We went out for pizza at Bumpy Joe’s in Oak Bluffs and got lost riding around on his moped and that was it.

“For the next year we had mostly a phone romance and visited each other several times. I graduated from college and moved out here to live with him in 1990. I got a job working as a teacher at the M.V. Hospital Child Care Center and he worked as a moped mechanic.

“We’ve come a long way. We have been married for over 20 years and have an 11 year-old daughter, Lydia Carlos.

“We have made it this far because we have shown a deep interest and respect for each other’s cultures. I have learned Portuguese and have spent extended amounts of time in Brazil. He has attended all of my big family gatherings whether in Connecticut or in Chinatown in San Francisco. And it all comes back to we both have a good sense of humor and can laugh at our own families!

“When we were married my Chinese cousin sent us this poem, which speaks not only of the interaction between a man and a woman but the melding of two cultures also. I think it speaks perfectly of our last 24 years together:”

Twixt you and me

There’s so much emotion.

That’s the reason why

There’s such a commotion!

Take a lump of clay

Wet it, pat it

and make an image of me

and an image of you.

Then smash them,

crash them,

and add a little water.

Break them and remake them

into an image of you

and an image of me.

Then in my clay,

there’s a little of you.

And in your clay,

there’s a little of me.           

Kuan Tao-sheng (1262-1319)

The Ferries got engaged at the old Navigator Restaurant on Edgartown Harbor. To seal the deal, Todd had the Vineyard Sound acapella group serenade Jennifer.
The Ferries got engaged at the old Navigator Restaurant on Edgartown Harbor. To seal the deal, Todd had the Vineyard Sound acapella group serenade Jennifer.

How we got engaged
Serenaded by the Vineyard Sound.
by Jennifer Ferrie

I got engaged to my husband on MV in 2003 at the Navigator restaurant. We first visited the Island in 2001 as a couple and fell in love immediately. When my husband proposed he set it up with the restaurant so we would sit on the deck. He enlisted the help of The Vineyard Sound to serenade me as he proposed. We didn’t think to take any pictures but luckily a woman mailed me some shots that she took.

We love the Vineyard and continue to return year after year. We were most recently there in 2012 with our then 2.5 year old daughter. Introducing her to all of the great places that we love to visit was one for the memory books.