Longtime couples share their Valentine's Day secrets to lasting love
Bill and Geraldine Budzina at their home in Boswell. (Staff photo by Kecia Bal / February 2, 2013)
"I thought she was a nice-looking girl, friendly — seemed like she'd be good to spend time with," he said.
And 58 years later, Budzina knows his first impression was right.
Though Bill and Geraldine Budzina now reserve dancing for weddings only, it's clear that the Boswell couple still enjoys each other's company.
"He didn't ask me to dance," said Geraldine, 74. "He just asked me if he could take me home. I told him, 'yes.'"
The two spent nearly every weekend together over the six months following that dance. They remember going to drive-in movies, grabbing milk shakes at a drive-in restaurant in Somerset and going to more dances. Though Geraldine still was a junior at Conemaugh Township High School, they decided it was time to tie the knot. With $40 in their pockets, they headed out to Winchester, Va., and officially became Mr. and Mrs. Budzina on Nov. 27, 1954.
"My family didn't think much about it," Geraldine said. "It was a different time then."
Though they make it look easy, Geraldine offered a word of advice for young couples starting out: Don't give up.
"We had our struggles, big and small," she said, leaning back in an easy chair next to her husband in their living room. "There's nothing that you can't work out."
The two endured the loss of their 9-year-old son, Joey, in 1975. A portrait of the young boy who loved fire trucks and CB radios hangs on the center of a living room wall covered in photos of family and friends. They also raised a daughter, Cathy. Their other son, Bill Budzina Jr., married the former Rae Lynn DeLuca and had two girls, both of whom visit their grandparents regularly.
Bill said much of their entertainment as a young married couple was simply visiting with family nearby. The two still make family ties a priority, he said.
"The old TV you had with bunny ears was off by 8 p.m.," he said. "We'd go visit our brothers and sisters, and when our kids were young, there were always kids playing baseball in our backyard, picking apples from our tree for apple pie and apple fritters. It was a different time."
One thing that hasn't changed, Bill said, is his affection for his wife — he's quick to pull out photos of her as a girl, give her a squeeze or brag about her cooking.
Though they started out young, Geraldine said she wouldn't change anything about their romance.
"We weren't scared," she said. "In those days, you didn't think much about it. You just made it work."
Another local longtime couple — Dave and Vi Janshego of Davidsville — has also learned how to keep the spark alive.
"We're still on our honeymoon," Dave said, smiling at his wife of 52 years.
The Davidsville couple celebrated their anniversary Jan. 27. Humor still plays a role in their bond. Sitting together over mugs of coffee at the Conemaugh Township Senior Center in Hollsopple, Dave, 76, still makes his 72-year-old wife giggle with jokes, such as one about why they chose to marry in January.
"Nothing was in season," he said, with a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. "There was nothing better to do than get married, I guess."
The couple met at a former Moxham car dealership, Hallman's Chevrolet, where Vi was a cashier and her future husband was a mechanic. A mutual friend asked Vi whether she would be interested in going on a date with Dave.
She said yes. And she said yes again when Dave later asked her to marry him right about the time of the company Christmas party.
The two wed at St. Clement Church on Goucher Street in Johnstown. They settled down in the area and raised three children, all of whom now live nearby. Their four grandchildren range in age from 11 to 20.
The two know sharing interests — such as cutting a rug to Buck Owens or camping on weekends — is important, but they've also learned to respect what the other believes or enjoys. She likes reading with the TV running. He would prefer to watch The O'Reilly Factor. They attend separate churches, and both are content that way.
Mr. Janshego joked again.
"It works because we don't talk to each other," he said.
The key to lasting love, Mrs. Janshego said, with a laugh and a glance at her husband, is simple: "Be patient."