An East End man who married a girl he fell head over heels in love with at a town hall dance is just as much in love today as when he first met her on the dance floor 69 years ago.
That night when he went over and asked for a dance, he knew right away he had found his lifelong companion. To let her know he was serious about her, the next day he turned up at her workplace with a letter of proposal asking her permission to date.
Martin Bodden 86, and wife Marjorie, 85, celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on May 29 at their home on Meadowlark Drive, Spotts Newlands, with family and friends, and Mrs. Bodden’s favorite local dish – stew fish and salt beef rundown.
“I loved her from the very first time we met. I can’t remember where we met, but I know I still love her,” said Mr. Bodden on a recent afternoon. “Martin, you remember, we met at the dance and that’s where we got to talking,” said Mrs. Bodden. “Oh, yeah! I remember now. I loved you from that very first time … yes, ma’am.”
“I knew he was serious because the very next day he turned up at my workplace and handed me this letter telling me he loved me and asking if I had a boyfriend, and if he could date me,” said Mrs. Bodden.
She agreed to date him, and it was not too long afterward that she realized Martin was the one, because when he came calling, he was always very neat, he had a job, worked very hard and he was well mannered.
Not everyone was so enthusiastic about the match. After dating for five years, Mr. Bodden wrote three letters asking Marjorie’s mother for her hand in marriage, and was denied all three times. In the end, the couple got married in 1952 when Marjorie gave her own consent.
“Her mother didn’t want me, but after Marjorie gave consent, she couldn’t do nothing about it again … but not one of the family came to the wedding,” Mr. Bodden said.
“We have a good life together; every bad situation I try to make something good out of it,” said Mrs. Bodden.
The newlyweds first lived together in George Town, building a small home there a year later. Like many men at the time, Mr. Bodden soon went to sea, leaving for up to 14 months at a time. But once the couple started welcoming children, Mrs. Bodden urged her husband to end the seafaring life because she feared his children would grow up not knowing him, and not forge a strong father/child bond.
Mr. Bodden consented, and took a job at the airport as a fireman, and the family moved to a bigger home in Newlands. Mr. Bodden eventually had to retire after getting ill with a heart condition. He then joined the team at the A. L. Thompson’s store, only retiring after he became ill again.
Mrs. Bodden said she did her best to bring up the children to be ambitious, to share with one another and to love and respect people and the community. She says her children still help and respect each other and she praises God for that.
When asked the secret to a great marriage, “Prayer, patience and perseverance was the glue that kept us together. Divorce was never an option so we had to make it work,” the couple agreed. “I loved her because she was very neat and the best of cooks.” Mr. Bodden said.
Throughout the marriage, the couple did everything together. They went to church, worked, gardened, shopped, cooked and went to sleep together, Mrs. Bodden said. Of course, they had their ups and downs and bumps along the way, but she believes in the power of prayer.
“When you are married and the matrimony says ‘For better or worse,’ you must stick to that. When you have children, divorce is not the answer,” she said.
Mrs. Bodden said when the differences and difficulties came along, she did not let them get her down. Instead, she turned her attention to their seven children.
“One thing I never believed in was divorce. It makes me know it pays to serve the Lord because in everything I give thanks, because I could not have made it without Him,” she said.
In her spare time, Mrs. Bodden was known for spending most of her time visiting shut-ins, reading, cooking, cleaning, singing and praying with them. She was awarded the certificate of honor for Christian Service to the Community on Heroes Day 2010. She also took frequent cruises with the ladies from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Mr. Bodden spent his leisure time building “ludie” boards, and their son Martin recalls his father entertaining the children for hours with the game. Mr. Bodden spent his spare time making the boards, which became a popular request from many in the community.
“It was just a hobby and he would give them away, but after a while there were so many requests, he decided to sell [them] just to offset the cost of the wood,” he said.
Martin and his siblings Mary, George, Vincent, Debra, Ernest and Marlon also heard many good stories from their father about his life at sea, and he taught them how to handle a boat, draw a fish pot and bait a hook.
“My dad said he had a friend that would set the fish pots and mark the spot by a cloud. If he found the fish pots again, I do not know, but that was a big joke with the family when it was told,” said Martin.
Watching his mother in the kitchen preparing meals was also a charm for Martin. He said his mother loved to cook and show them how things were done. “I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her, and admired the way she multi-tasked the sewing, cooking, cleaning and having everything so coordinated.”
He said she was always willing to help people and to do whatever it took to keep the family together.
Mrs. Bodden feels the couple has been truly blessed, and believes that if her husband goes before her, she will not be too far behind. “Sometimes it makes me wonder if it’s really worth being together for so long, and one has to go, but God knows how I will manage, so I won’t stress and go that far,” she said.