Editor’s Note: This is part of “Wedded Bliss,” an ongoing series about Hudson County couples. If you know a couple who should be featured, contact us at the address below!
For 18-year-old Marietta, a tall, attractive young woman at 5-foot-9, it was easy to say yes when a 6-foot-2 Robert Chaneski asked her to dance at the Union City Veterans of Foreign Wars hall one Sunday night in 1959.
“Years ago it was difficult to find tall guys…and that was what attracted me first,” said Marietta Chaneski, 70, about what caught her eye when her husband of 50 years, Robert “Bob” Chaneski, 73, approached her for the very first time.
“He makes me laugh.” — Marietta Chaneski
Marietta grew up in Hoboken, with Italian roots, her family went back generations.
“It was a height thing,” said Bob in agreement. “And I liked the way she looked.”
But it was more than height that set the foundation for their long-lasting relationship.
“She always loved my blue eyes,” said Bob.
“He had nice blue eyes, a nice curl in his hair,” said Marietta.
“I had the Elvis curl. She was very pretty, plus she had a car,” said Bob with a smile.
On the road to love
Bob borrowed a car from a friend for their first date at the Roosevelt drive-in off of Route 440 in Jersey City, the former site of Roosevelt Stadium, where Jackie Robinson had debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“The car got stuck on the first date. It was embarrassing,” said Marietta.
“Halfway up the driveway, the car died. I go in the bowling alley [which was across the way] and ask my friends to push me in to the drive-in,” said Bob.
The couple spent a year going to diners, dances, and drive-ins before Bob proposed right outside Marietta’s home on Grand and Sixth streets in Hoboken after dining out.
For the first time, Bob told Marietta that he loved her before asking her to marry him.
Although Bob didn’t have a ring, he felt it was the right time.
“For me to buy the ring and give it to her was out of the question. I was making less than $5,000 a year. That was a yearly salary back then,” said Bob. “Our idea was that we would go together and buy the ring.”
Shortly thereafter the couple gathered both of their families for an engagement party at The Blue Point on Eighth and Willow Street. A year later, on June 17, 1961, Bob and Marietta were married at St. Ann’s Church in Hoboken.
Marietta purchased her wedding dress for $150 at Reba’s in Union City. The reception was held at The Royal Hawaiian Palms in Lyndhurst, which had a long stairway entrance into the reception hall, a popular feature at the time. Three hundred guests attended.
“It cost us $3 a plate. I remember we had ham steak and champagne sauce,” said Marietta. “It was perfect…it was a beautiful day.”
The night of their wedding, Bob and Marietta danced to “You’ll Never Know,” a song originally song by Alice Faye in 1943 and later recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dick Haymes.
The couple moved to Hoboken after marrying.
Twenty-five years later, they returned to The Royal Hawaiian Palms to celebrate their wedding anniversary and invited all friends and family that attended the wedding. But this time they walked the grand staircase with their three sons John, Robert Jr., and Chris, and daughter Andrea.
They were able to get the same band that played during their wedding.
Secrets to life-long love
“We never had a chance to argue. He’d come home from work and I would leave,” said Marietta of one reason they’ve had a successful marriage. For 25 years, Marietta worked in the records department of the former St. Mary Hospital, while Bob worked as a letter carrier for 37 years.
“I would come home and take care of the kids,” said Bob, who went to work early in the morning and returned home during mid-afternoon.
Other than having private time apart from one another, Bob and Marietta said that building strong friendships and family contributes to a good partnership. They have taken vacations with friends over the years and continue to see friends they’ve kept for more than 60 years.
Eleven years ago they retired on the same exact day. The first year was difficult but patience got them through, and now they spend all of their time together and appreciate every moment. They mention being best buddies as an important factor.
“He makes me laugh,” said Marietta.
“I bend over backwards for her. I go out of my way…I know what she likes,” said Bob.
INSLY: I’ll never stop loving you
Since Bob can remember, he has signed every anniversary and birthday card with INSLY, which stands for I’ll never stop loving you.
Marietta and Bob’s love and unwavering devotion to one another has lasted more than half a century. On June 17, they celebrated their 50th anniversary in an intimate setting shared with their four children, three daughters-in-law, eight grandchildren, and a few close friends.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.