Residents share their thoughts

On marriage, village life and avocado toast.

If you’ve ever taken a walk through one of the Lendlease villages during one of the open sessions, you will have come across people from all walks of life. And if those villages were Elliot Gardens in South Australia or Burwood Terrace in Victoria, you probably would’ve been welcomed by two smiling couples who, behind their friendly faces, have been together for more than 70 years. John and Rene of Elliot Gardens and John and Wilma of Burwood Terrace share their love stories, plus a few home truths and their thoughts on avocado toast!  

JOHN & RENE | Elliot Gardens

Residents share their thoughts
How did you meet?
Rene: The year was 1943, John was on his way home on leave from the Navy and I was on my way home on leave from the Women’s Land Army. When our train reached Port Augusta station, we had to change to a bus to take us on to Whyalla, our hometown. We hadn’t met each other at this point, but as John says, when he saw me struggling with my baggage and a huge bunch of flowers that I was bringing home for mum, he quickly offered to help carry her bags to the bus. This was the start of a three-year romance by letter, as we could only meet once a year when on leave. The rest is history, as they say. 
If there was one thing you wish you knew before marriage what would it be?
John: Having lost my mum when I was nine years of age, and having no other female influence in my life, I wish she could have been there to guide and help me understand love and marriage. Thankfully after meeting Rene, she was able to show me.
Rene: I came from a very happy, loving and secure family and I didn’t know life to be anything different than the life I was living so I didn’t think married life would be any different, and it wasn’t.  
What’s something you do every day to show you love one-another?
Rene: We are always looking out for each other’s wellbeing and we never go to bed without kissing each other goodnight.

JOHN & WILMA | Burwood Terrace

Lendlease residents share their thoughts

How did you meet?

Wilma: We met when I was 16 and John was 20 and we would often go to the local dances in Oakley where we lived at the time. He would come in with all his buddies and I was there with my girlfriends. This went on for a few weeks when eventually he asked if I’d like to come to his friend’s engagement party. We were together for four years before we got married. 

If you could give advice to couples who are thinking of marriage, what would it be?

Wilma: Well, we didn’t live together before we got married and got to know each other as friends first before we decided to get married. It was a long, long courtship (Wilma laughs). So, I’d say create a friendship first before considering marriage is my best advice. 

John: Also, we’re both very pragmatic people. For example, our birthdays are only a week apart and one year, when we were engaged, we decided we were going to gift each other saucepans for our birthdays because we needed to buy them for the wedding anyway. My mother was mortified (John laughs), she thought it was terribly unromantic. My point is that we were always on the same page when it came to things like that, so make sure your partner shares the same attitude as you. Wilma and I have always been pragmatic. None of this avocado on toast business!

What’s something you do every day to show you love one-another?

John: First of all, flowers and chocolates don’t work after a while (John laughs). We’ve virtually formed our own language, one that no one else can understand but us. We’ve butchered some words and we just laugh about it. 

Wilma: Often we’ll just be sitting together in a companionable silence, which to be honest is few and far apart because we’re quite sociable people, but when we do sometimes I’ll just look at John and say ‘we should do such and such’, and he’ll say ‘I was just about to say that!’. 

What is it that you enjoy about village life? 

Wilma: As I said we’re very sociable people and unfortunately because a lot of our family has passed, we’ve been lucky to make plenty of friends here in Burwood Terrace. We go to all of the social events and there isn’t really a weekend that there isn’t something happening in the village. Sunday afternoons for example, we all gather to chat and have a drink. There’s a lot of drinking (John and Wilma laugh). 

John: In other words, if there’s a bus we’re on it!

Having lived in three places during their 61 years together, John and Wilma remember driving past the gates to Burwood Terrace village and thinking to themselves, ‘we’re going to retire there one day’, and as Wilma says, ‘we’re very pleased we did!’