Vows still strong after 71 years

Newport Beach retirees George, 97, and Mary Mickaelian, 91, married in 1939.

June 25, 2010|By Tom Ragan,

It was a day before their 71st wedding anniversary, in the quiet of their apartment and away from the balloons and ballyhoo. George and Mary Mickaelian were asked a series of the obligatory questions, one of them being where they spent their honeymoon.

To which George, 97, sitting in the comfort of his chair in the couple's apartment at the Newport Beach Plaza retirement community, after thinking about it slowly, said, "We went to the World Series."

Said Mary, 91, nearly biting his head off: "It wasn't the World Series, George. It was the World's Fair."

Actually, it was called the Golden Gate International Exposition, which was a part of the World's Fair. The theme was "Pageant of the Pacific," where all sorts of products from other nations bordering the Pacific Ocean were showcased in San Francisco.

The year was 1939. The month June. The date sometime following the 25th, the date of their marriage.


As it turns out, George ended up taking Mary to a show at the fair that featured (gasp!) topless volleyball players, a display of nudity that was gaining popularity back in those days — thanks to a burlesque dancer by the name of Sally Rand and her so-called Nude Ranch.

"I was pretty mad about that!" said Mary, looking over at George, who after triple bypass surgery more than a decade ago, not to mention the recent onset of diabetes, has seen better days and doesn't have the fight in him to argue.

But he instinctively knows better than to admit to anything that took place more than 70 years ago.

"I don't remember that," he said, his walker splayed out before him. "But I do remember my racehorses. We had 17 winners at Los Alamitos. Seventeen of them. I've got the pictures."

Mary knowingly rolled her eyes. She had a hair appointment to get to inside the retirement community on Superior Avenue.

It's the sort of exchange one might expect between two people who've been married for so long. They already know what one is going to say or do long before it's actually said or done. It's that quintessential tit for tat, the sort of banter that's mostly entertaining to the outside observer as the wife browbeats the husband and the husband, in this case nearly a centenarian, takes it in the gut for his past transgressions — all in good humor.

It's what's made their marriage last for so long as they are well past the sunset of their lives.

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