They had a flat car battery on their first date, but that didn’t stop James and Deidre Hale, of Bothasig, spending the rest of their lives together.
This week, James, 83, and Deirde, 81, will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Their love story started in the late 1950s when James met Deirdre for the first time.
Both of them were teenagers, and little did they know that a simple crush would last forever.
James, or Jimmy as he is known, grew up between Wynberg and Plumstead, and he met Deirdre, or Dee as she’s known, when he dropped his sister off at her place in Diep River.
“It was that moment when I fell in love with her. She was a bombshell,” says James, mimicking the sound of an explosion.
But “love at first sight” was not the case for Deirdre. It wasn’t until they went on their first date to the Regal Cinema on the corner of Piers Road and Main Road, in Wynberg, that she realised “it was meant to be”.
The couple still remember their first date and the jitters and emotions they felt.
James recalls that the intervals between the films allowed him to impress Deirdre with some sweet treats and an ice-cream.
But he was embarrassed when it was time to go because his car wouldn’t start. He had been so focused on having a perfect night that he had left the radio on and the battery had run flat. But the relationship survived the flat car battery, and the couple got engaged two years later and married on a warm, sunny day on November 18, 1961. The ceremony was followed by a small reception at James’s mother’s home.
James says that when he saw his bride for the first time in her wedding dress, he knew he was “making the right choice”.
“Even though the dress was second-hand and gifted to me,” Deirde adds with a laugh.
The couple started married life in a caravan park in Zeekoevlei, and five years later and with two children, they moved into a flat in Kenilworth.
In 1968, they moved again, this time to the Bothasig home where they still live today.
Deirdre says she adores James and appreciates that he has always worked hard to provide for his family.
James credits her with saving his life about 20 years when he had an angina attack and she drove him to a doctor.
“Without her, I wouldn’t be here today,” he says.
Honesty, compassion, understanding and mostly love are the ingredients for a long-lasting marriage, the couple say.
Deidre says couples need to pray together and compromise, and James says they should budget to avoid financial problems and always have respect for each other.
On Thursday, they will celebrate by inviting some residents and friends to their home for cake and tea. Their guests are expected to arrive in small groups during different times of the day.
Later in the evening, the couple will have supper with just the family and their granddaughter will braai for them.
Their daughter, Julie Larkan, says she hopes to use the same glue that kept her parents together – commitment, trust and love – in her marriage.