True love. Wedded bliss. Happily ever after. It’s the stuff of fairy tales not often told in this day and age – a promise kept, a bond unbroken – as Jack and Norma Melchor celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary Feb. 6.
From a 14-foot trailer with a small kitchen table that doubled as a bed to the ranch-style home on a hill in Los Altos Hills with views of the Bay Area below, Jack and Norma talked about the secrets to a successful marriage.
“It’s known as molding,” Norma said.
Jack has his own idea.
“We don’t always have a good time – we don’t always agree,” he said. “What that means is … Norma doesn’t always do what I say.”
But the playful banter the couple toss to one another creates the compelling attraction that cements the bond between Jack and Norma. It started in South Bend, Ind., where 17-year-old Navy officer-in-training Jack stopped in at a tea dance at the USO. At 21, Norma was an older woman.
“I was looking for someone who was intelligent and wasn’t a pushover,” she said.
Jack was smitten, Norma decidedly determined. And with a 16-month deployment to Japan imminent at the height of World War II, the still underage Jack made up his mind. He traveled to Florida in search of a symbol of his love.
“I bought the cheapest ring I could find,” he said.
On Feb. 6, 1946 – they think – Norma and Jack married, with Norma signing for Jack’s father on the marriage certificate because young Jack wasn’t quite legal. Is that legal?
“I call it an investment,” she said.
Fast forward to post-World War II, a move to California, a home purchase in Los Altos and four children – Greg, Karen, Kay and Jeff.
The ensuing years would be filled with PTA and El Camino Hospital Auxiliary and board duties for Norma and engineering and venture capitalist duties for Jack.
To celebrate No. 65, the Melchors traveled to England, as they did for their 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries to gather with family.
“Those were fabulous ones,” Norma said of the landmark anniversaries when close friends surprised them with an overseas visit to celebrate.
This year’s celebration was a little more intimate, with a sprinkling of children and grandchildren.
Jack and Norma agree that no relationship survives without discussion, friendship and humor.
“Why stay married if you’re not having fun?” Norma asked.
And maybe the real secret to a lasting friendship is a four-letter word.
“I’d say we’re as much in love as the day we were married,” Jack said.