Surrey couple still kissing after 70 years of marriage

SURREY — How do you make it to your 70th wedding anniversary in one piece? According to Violet Kozinski, 89, it involves "a good sense of humour and a lot of patience."

"You live that long with one person, you always end up in an argument over something. But you go for a walk, shake it off and you come back," added her husband, Roy, 91.

The two met more than 70 years ago at a bar dance in Winnipeg while working for the air force.

"In those days you could go to a dance with your girlfriends and it used to cost you 25 cents, and at that time most of the people that were there were either air crew, army or navy," explained Violet.

The two hit it off and started going out, though their schedules didn’t exactly align.

"I was on steady graveyard shift and he was on days, so he’d come off shift and I would be going out," Violet said.

"We’d meet at a café for coffee in the morning as she was going home and I was going to work," Roy added.

But despite the inconvenience, the young couple made it work and they got married in the spring of 1944.

But it wasn’t married bliss just yet; soon after the wedding, Roy was sent out to Vancouver by the air force while Violet stayed behind in Winnipeg. She eventually moved out west to join Roy, but it wasn’t easy.

"The trouble was, trying to find a place to live in Vancouver in those days was a chore in itself," Roy said.

"There were just a lot of old rooming houses down in the West End. The first one we had was an upstairs bedroom and that was a bed-sitting room and the clothes closet was a kitchenette," Violet recalled with a laugh, "so we used to have to put a quarter in to get some gas on this little stove that they had there."

The couple didn’t stay there long and moved to a house near Marpole. Their two children, Barbara and Bob, were born there.

The two have since moved away – Barbara to Ottawa and Bob to Edmonton – but they fondly remember their childhood in Vancouver.

"I certainly remember the camping trip holidays we used to take, the canvas tents and leaking canvas. It was good times, I remember that very well," Bob said.

Even the tough times made for great memories.

"Dad worked at the lumber mill so every few years he went on strike and mum would bring out the pea soup. Oh the pea soup! I love it now but back then…" Barbara trailed off, laughing.

Roy and Violet lived in the same house that Bob and Barbara grew up in for 40 years before moving out to Surrey, where they live now.

"Oh, Vancouver’s changed so much, it’s so different now. When we came to Vancouver…" Violet started.

"There were no cars on the streets!" Roy interjected.

"Well, during the war, nobody could buy tires, so nearly all the cars that were around were up on stilts," Violet added.

She worked for a while at Woodwards, a department store in what was then the heart of the city’s shopping district, while Roy worked at a sawmill for 40 years after he left the air force in 1947.

"The factory was making boxes for ammunition (during the Second World War), for the army. After the war was finished, they made that box factory into a saw mill where they made lumber."

But it wasn’t all hard work. While Roy was still in the air force, the couple lived downtown for a short while. Though money was tight, they found ways to keep themselves entertained.

"Right where Kitsilano is now, that used to be the station where he was stationed at, so we’d walk across the Burrard Bridge to get a free movie at the station," Violet recalled. "And they used to have Theatre Under The Stars (in Stanley Park) so we’d go down and sit on the grass and listen to the music."

After the kids grew up, the couple, who had been dancing since their early days, starting square-dancing in earnest.

"My dancing days are over now but we used to go to Penticton every summer. They used to take a park there and cover it with plywood. People would come from all over the place and all the callers would come in from all different places and we’d dance," Violet said.

To celebrate their 70th anniversary, the couple will hold an open house at their Surrey townhouse on Sunday, May 4, from noon to 2 p.m. at 9072 Fleetwood Way.

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