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A few laps of the floor and Bill got his ‘right girl’

PARTNERS: Nancy and Bill Gross met more than 50 years ago at a Friday night St Mary’s Hall dance.
PARTNERS: Nancy and Bill Gross met more than 50 years ago at a Friday night St Mary’s Hall dance. Bubbles Barbierato

THEY met at a dance at St Mary's hall more than half a century ago but Bill Gross reckons given the right music, he and his wife Nancy can still handle a few laps of the floor.

In fact, he laments the end of the Friday night dance tradition in the timber hall in Warwick's Wood St.

"Young fellas looked spick and span, everyone had a tie on and it was the best place to meet girls," he recalls.

And if you didn't whip the girl of your dreams off her feet on Friday, there were always Saturday dances at country halls from Maryvale to Massie.

The well-known Warwick couple was married by their 21st birthdays and this year, celebrate 52 years together.

I think the secret to marriage is making sure you get the right girl. If you have any doubts, don't take it on. I was always 100% sure Nancy was the right girl.

"Back then, the girls used to sit along the wall, all the country dances were the same - and you would go and ask one for a dance," Bill says.

"Nancy was pretty good looking and that all helped and I asked her for a dance.

"She's a very good dancer, too. We used to pivot around and around St Mary's Hall.

"I was an average dancer, she was a much better dancer than me, but we both enjoyed it.

"I think it was the second dance before I asked her out."

Nancy recalls that first date.

"I think we went to the pictures at Kings Theatre, where the courting couples used to sit upstairs," she says.

"I don't remember what picture we saw and Bill slept through most of it, because he was always tired from driving trucks."

According to Bill they were "going together" for about a year before he asked Nancy to get engaged.

But his long-term sweetheart can't recall the exact proposal.

"I think he asked me in front of my house one night, after taking me out," she recalls.

"Put it this way, it wasn't anything really romantic!"

Yet she is quick to defend him as the more sentimental member of their partnership.

"He always remembers things like our wedding anniversary," she says.

Looking back her husband admits they didn't have a lot when they started life together, but they made it work.

"I think the secret to marriage is making sure you get the right girl," he said.

"If you have any doubts, don't take it on.

"I was always 100% sure Nancy was the right girl."

Married 52 years in September they are living evidence of the benefits of starting married life on the right foot.

"I think it's all about give and take," Nancy says.

"It's hard to put your finger on what it is exactly that makes it work.

"(But) I think it helps if you are with the right person."

Her husband offers simple advice to those working through precious personal relationships.

"I have learnt if you have a bit of a disagreement or a row, you should sort it out before you go to bed," Bill says.

"Clear the air before you go to sleep, that way you wake up fresh and it's a new day."

Yet he knows it is human nature to have arguments - the key, he says, is "how you sort them out".

Nancy laughs explaining when they were young, she was so busy with children and Bill was working on the farm at Maryvale, "we just didn't have time to argue".

"I think now people have their first row and they're divorced," she says.

"There is no privacy anymore.

"If you have a row, it's all out in the open on Facebook and I don't think that's good.

"Everyone gets involved and the whole world knows you have had a row, when really you might have been able to work (it) out with some privacy."

Despite the importance of staying connected, she also believes everyone needs their own space.

"You can spend too much time together," she says.

"I don't think you need to be in each other's faces.

"Nowadays we are busier than ever, but we've always made time for each other."

So, what about Valentine's Day, supposedly the most romantic time of the year?

"I am probably not that romantic and I don't think much of Valentine's Day," Bill laughs.

"I mean, it's probably good for young people trying to get together or sort things out.

"After all, they don't have dances like we did.

"Back then you danced together and got to know each other.

"I think it's a shame that's all disappeared."

But back to how he and his bride spend Valentine's Day.

"Sometimes we go out for dinner," he says.

"Though the real day we celebrate is our wedding anniversary and we do a bit of dancing and I think we still go okay."

Topics:  romance