It was game, set and match the first time Billy Coop laid eyes on Brenda. He had been helping a friend serve drinks at the Three Anchor Bay Tennis Club’s pub that February afternoon in 1969.
“In walked this beautiful woman. I asked my friend who she was, and he said, ‘way beyond your class,’” laughs Billy.
But Brenda, 25, and Billy, 22, were both members at the club and hit it off right away. By the following year, they were married.
“We knew by the second date that we were going to get married,” says Brenda.
The Table View couple celebrated their 50th anniversary on February 6. They married in St James Church in Three Anchor Bay and had their reception at the tennis club.
Their first home was a one-bedroom flat in Brighton Court in Camps Bay where they paid R57 a month for rent. But wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, they decided to move to Table View where “there was hardly any development”.
“It’s caught up with us big time,” says, Brenda who remembers a time when Blaauwberg Road was a single-lane lined with bluegums.
While the Coops were driving through the area one day, an estate agent waved them down to view the house they eventually bought and have lived in since the early 1970s.
“I wanted a house of our own,” says Billy. Brenda was not as keen on the four-bedroom house in Pentz Drive, saying, “He promised me we’d live here for two years.”
But the home grew on her as it filled with love, family and happy memories.
The Coops had two daughters, Belinda and Alison, and they now have three grandchildren.
“After we moved in, I discovered there were no buses to get to work,” says Brenda.
So, they bought a Volkswagen Beetle for R125 – it had no fuel gauge.
“I used to drive around with a stick to check how far the petrol was, and I got stuck on the road a few times without petrol,” laughs Brenda. She worked as a general clerk at Barkley’s in town. Billy worked for Southern Life until he was retrenched in 1998. He now works online for two business- one being a Dutch business school. But he still makes spending time with Brenda a priority.
“We go for coffee often. On a Friday, in particular, we’ll try and go out for lunch or do something together,” he says.
The two have also kept active throughout the years. Brenda played league tennis until 2016 when she injured herself on court. Billy has been a member of the Milnerton Golf Club for 40 years and wakes up every morning at 5.15am to do neighbourhood-watch patrol with his dog, Layla. Brenda and Billy agree there’s “a thin invisible line” in marriage.
“If you cross it, that’s when issues arise,” says Brenda.
It’s never been difficult being married to Billy, she adds.
“We’ve never disagreed on the big things, and we respect each other’s personal space.”