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Seven decades in love

    For Nick and Mary Andrusco of Fort  Frances, humor and patience are two simple qualities they believe are crucial to a successful marriage.    And they should know.    Tomorrow (July 19th) the couple will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.    They met here 70 years ago, purely by chance. It’s a moment that Mary Andrusco remembers as if it was yesterday. She was just shy of her 16th birthday and Nick was all of 19.    “My dad [George Pidlubny] had bought the Emperor Hotel and on June 26, 1937 he moved our family down here from Winnipeg,” reminisced Mary Andrusco, now 86, during an interview with the couple at their home last week.    “My dad had to know where all the Ukrainian people were and what was going on. He found out there was a youth meeting at the Reading Society (CYMK) and he marched us right over there the day after we got here.    “They were having lunch and Nick sat right across from me,” she said with a smile, and engaging her husband’s familiar and jovial laughter.    Nick, 89, also added to the recall of long ago days with memories of the long walks they took together to Pither’s Point that first summer.    “We used to walk from Armit  Avenue on the railway tracks to the Point and back again sometimes three times a day,” he said.    Another defining moment for Mary Andrusco early-on in their romance was when she heard Nick sing.    In her eyes, no one—celebrity or otherwise—has since ever matched it.    “I tell this story all the time, because to me this was the highlight of [our courtship],” she continued.    “Later on in July [1937], Nick said the town band was having a concert at the Town Hall, and he said, ‘After the concert we’ll go and have a milkshake,’” she recalled.      “I was a little bit late getting to the concert and when I walked in, he was on the stage singing ‘Danny Boy’ and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard,” she said with a smile.    “[Nick] and those big blue eyes—I say it even now—whenever I hear the song, nobody has ever sung it better than Nick and I honestly mean it.    “It was simply the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard,” reiterated Mary Andrusco.      (Nick Andrusco and also his brother Walter, who recently turned 100 years-of-age, were well-known musicians across the district and played music for weddings, dances, and social events for years.)    Mary and Nick courted for five years, through high school and on into the years Nick was in administrative military service with the Canadian Forces, where he led the marching band used during conscription and recruitment tours across Canada.    Their marriage in 1942 was decided upon by the uncertain times and the ever possibility that Nick would be sent into service overseas.    “We didn’t know what was going to happen and we wanted to be together [and] if you were 21 in those days and weren’t married . . .,” Mary Andrusco said, chuckling.    The Andruscos were married at St.  John’s Anglican Church here and waited until the end of the war to take their honeymoon in Chicago.    The couple began their family in 1947, having three daughters and a son.Parenting was primarily Mary Andrusco’s department as a stay-at-home mom. Nick worked in the mill and also was involved in his own music band.    “I was with them more [yet] I knew what Nick would approve of and not approve of, so I tried to guide myself that way,” Mary Andrusco explained.    “If things got to the point where the kids were really pushing me, my answer always was ‘Go ask your father’ and their reply was, ‘Forget it,’” she chuckled, with a rousting bout of laughter added from her husband.    “My other [answer], if I wasn’t sure at the time of a reply [to a child’s want], was ‘We’ll see.’    “Those were my two defenses until I had support,” she noted.    The couple never have laid claim to the secret for a happy marriage, suggesting they are just an everyday loving couple, living in the moment and appreciating what they have.     “Our kids call us the ‘Archie Bunkers,’ and we wouldn’t be normal if we didn’t have [disagreements], but we have never fought and we are not mean to each other,” said Mary Andrusco.    “We never got into arguments where we wouldn’t talk to each other, no. I’d never heard of such a thing,” Nick Andrusco concurred.        Perhaps their 65 years together are the result of thinking on a much smaller scale.    On a recent flight to Florida the couple was asked by a flight attendant how long they’d been married, and upon hearing that they were soon to celebrate 65 years, the attendant queried, “How do you do that?’    “I told her, ‘One day at a time,’” Mary Andrusco said with a smile, with her husband’s nod and laughter right on cue.

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