Love, not cooking, ties couple together

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Diamond... East Gore’s Barry and Norma Popham hold some of the congratulatory cards they received when they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last week. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

His future wife’s lack of baking talent did not discourage Barry Popham from walking her down the aisle.

Popham celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last week.

Mr Popham said before the couple were married he broke his ribs playing rugby.

To cheer him up, Mrs Popham and best friend Judith, who was Mr Popham’s sister, gave him some doughnuts they had made in a school cooking class.

“They felt sorry for me,” Mr Popham said.

Unfortunately the doughnuts were not edible.

“He reckoned they would have stuck his ribs together,” Mrs Popham said.

“They were bad, extremely bad.

“I don’t think he could eat them.

“He never let us forget that.”

The next attempt to help him forget his aching ribs involved jam tarts and was just as unsuccessful.

“Instead of putting in two teaspoons of baking powder we misread the directions and he got two tablespoons, so he couldn’t eat those either ’cause they tasted vile,” she said.

His wife was a very good cook now, he said.

Mr Popham is six years older than his wife and the couple met through Judith, who became Mrs Popham’s friend when they started their first day at Gore High School.

The Pophams came from Riversdale but Mr Popham was completing a carpenter’s apprentice and boarded with his grandmother in Gore.

Their first date was to see a film when Mrs Popham was about 15.

Her parents were very strict and insisted she was home by 11pm.

“If the movie finished later than that I was in hot water because it took us a while to walk home,” she said.

They were married in St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on October 22, 1960.

After they had been married for a few years, they moved into a house Mr Popham built.

They lived there for 52 years but their relationship was tested each time a room was wallpapered.

“We had a divorce every time we came to paper a room and our daughter, Shelley, sort of took over and she started the papering, so that saved us.”

Raising a family of five children, two of whom were twins, kept them busy.

“Five kids in six years.”

Their marriage had “ups and downs” like most couples, they said.

“You just need to forget them and carry on again,” he said.

“You always come out of top,” Mrs Popham said.

“If we had a row, it was all over in a couple of hours,” Mr Popham said.

“Grin and bear it,” Mrs Popham said.

It was important to have a sense of humour, they said.

The couple had received congratulatory cards including from the Queen, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

“I’m very disappointed got anything from “Crusher” Collins [National Party leader Judith Collins],” Mrs Popham said.