In 1944, two teenagers met while working at Kresge’s Five and Dime in Detroit.
Nine months later, they married.
Robert and Victoria Logan’s first date on St. Patrick’s Day proved memorable.
“I took her to my favorite barbecue place,” Robert recalled. “But she’s Maltese and didn’t like the food.”
In their South Hill dining room, Victoria nodded.
“They were cooking chicken and ribs in an open window. Flies came in!” she said with a shudder.
“She still doesn’t like barbecue,” Robert said.
He took her to the movies after dinner, but that didn’t impress her, either.
“We found our seats and he told me, ‘I’ll be right back, I’m going to get a menagerie,” Victoria recalled. “A menagerie? I had no idea what that was!”
Robert returned to their seats with popcorn and assorted candy – a “menagerie” of goodness. He promptly ate every bite and didn’t offer his date a thing.
“I guess he thought since I didn’t eat my dinner, I couldn’t have dessert.”
Her date, unaware that he’d failed to impress, immediately asked her out again.
“I liked her a lot, right away,” he said.
Despite her misgivings, she agreed to go out with him again. And again.
Both still in high school, he worked two jobs to help his mother with the rent, and she worked at Kresge’s while going to school.
One day as they took a stroll in downtown Detroit, Robert asked Victoria, “Do you think you could live on $20 a week?”
She didn’t know how to respond.
“I’d never even seen a $20 bill,” she said, “but I said, ‘I think so.’ ”
He turned 18 on Nov. 10, and they were married at the justice of the peace office on Nov. 17, 1944.
Victoria had graduated, but Robert still had a semester of high school to finish after their wedding.
The teens settled into an apartment in a “rough” part of town. The rent was $10 a week. Robert had attended a trade high school, so he continued working as a machinist at Chrysler, and Victoria’s work ethic soon earned them free rent.
“I’d grown up working for the nuns to pay my tuition,” she said. “I was used to hard work.”
When their landlords decided to move to the country and needed someone to manage the apartments, Victoria stepped up to the plate.
In 1950, their son John arrived, and Victoria put an ad in the paper, offering her housekeeping skills in exchange for a place to live. They moved into a cottage on the 12-acre estate of the owner of a local tool and die company. The move proved fortuitous, because when Robert needed steadier work than his machinist gig provided, the owner of the estate gave him a full-time job.
By 1955, they’d saved $5,000 – enough to buy a new brick house in the suburbs. That year Victoria gave birth to twin daughters, Missy and Jan Marie. Sadly, Jan Marie lived only a couple of weeks. Their grief was softened by the birth of another daughter, Coco, in 1956.
More changes were in store. Robert said one day he looked out the window of his shop and couldn’t see anything but snow.
“I came out and made the announcement. ‘We are selling the house and moving to California.’ ”
Victoria’s mother had moved there. In 1957, they joined her.
“I found a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home for $18,000 in San Diego,” Victoria said.
That’s where they raised their family, which was completed with the birth of Mary, in 1960.
Victoria kept busy with the children, and Robert took a job with General Atomics. He also attended night school, earning a bachelor’s degree. Each summer, the family took memorable camping trips, exploring Yosemite, Robinson Creek and Green River in Utah.
After several encounters with bears, a can of rocks become a must-pack staple. Those trips awakened the couple’s desire for travel and adventure, and when Robert retired at age 58; they bought an RV and embarked on a trip.
“It was supposed to be a one-year camping trip,” Victoria said. “It turned into 10 years.”
And it spanned the globe. After traversing the U.S. (including three trips to Alaska) they were ready to see more.
Victoria wanted to travel Europe, but didn’t want to stay in hotels or eat in restaurants, so they bought a smaller motorhome and shipped it to Germany.
“I told him no matter where we went we’d always be lost, but we’d have our bed and food with us,” Victoria said.
They embarked on an epic journey. From France to Yugoslavia to Turkey, they saw it all. But their favorite trips were to Malta – three visits in all, including one with two of their children and spouses.
In addition to travel, Robert found a new love – pottery. He picked it up while living with their youngest daughter, and developed a special glaze, which he wrote a book about.
They chose to settle in Spokane in 2015, to be near their daughter, Mary.
As their 77th anniversary approaches in November, Victoria said the years have “flown by.”
Each year, the couple, both 94, celebrate the anniversary of their less-than-stellar first date, but they don’t go out for barbecue.
Reflecting back on the day they met, Robert said, “I met my million-dollar baby at the 10-cent store.”
When asked the secret of their 76-year marriage, he glanced at Victoria.
“I love her. I just really love her,” he said. “We hug a lot of people, but there’s only one hug that really matters and that’s ours.”
Cindy Hval can be reached at email@example.com
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