William and Ida Seifert's love blossomed in adolescence when she used to perch on the handlebars of his bicycle for rides around pre-Depression-era Baltimore.
Yesterday, the Seiferts arrived at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on a different set of wheels, proclaiming their devotion to each other as they and more than 100 other married couples were honored on the annual World Marriage Day.
During a Mass celebrated by Cardinal William H. Keeler, couples who had been married 25, 50 or more than 50 years exchanged marriage vows in the North Charles Street cathedral.
The Seiferts, who have been married 70 years, were honored as the "longest-married" couple in the archdiocese. About 1,000 people attended the event.
"You stand before us as witnesses of the married love that Christ blessed your marriage day with," Cardinal Keeler told those assembled.
Then the Seiferts and the other couples repeated the vows voiced by Cardinal Keeler: "I have taken you, and take you again, to be my spouse. I promise to be true to you in good times and bad ."
Ribbons bearing each couple's names and pinned to lapels and dresses told how long the honored couples had been united. White ribbons denoted those married for more than 50 years. Gold ones were for those celebrating 50th anniversaries this year and silver for those married 25 years.
The Seiferts, who were married when Calvin Coolidge was president, marked their 70th anniversary in June with a Mass at their parish church, St. Ignatius in Forest Hill. Later, they were selected by an archdiocesan committee as honorees for this year's World Marriage Day Mass.
While a little overwhelmed by all the attention, Mrs. Seifert seemed pleased about the milestone. She credits the long union to a "give-and-take" policy for resolving problems: "First, we'd try his way," she said. "If that didn't work, then we'd try mine."
They met in school in their midteens and married two years later, settling in the city's Brooklyn neighborhood. He went to work as an electrician-trainee and she became a homemaker. They moved to Bel Air 30 years ago.
The Seiferts have a daughter, Vivian Barbieri, and a son, Carl. They also have four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The idea for World Marriage Day began in 1981 with a Baton Rouge, La., couple who wanted to promote marriage.
By the next year, the idea had spread across the nation and now is observed in about 80 other countries -- always around Valentine's Day, which is Wednesday.