“You kids are crazy – it won’t last,” people told them.
The year was 1942. Hitler was tightening his grip on Europe, the United States was at war with Japan, and young men from all over the country were being called to fight in the largest war the world had ever seen.
It also happened to be the year Bob and Eleanor “Pat” Armacher met, at a summer dance in Hartford, Conn.
“It was love at first sight,” said their son Robert “Buckley” Armacher. And since then, “Every possible moment was spent together,” he said.
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However, the couple’s courtship was interrupted in November, when Bob received a notice from the U.S. Army’s draft board that he was to be inducted on Dec. 29. The evening of Nov. 20, after receiving the notice, Bob proposed to Pat. As she describes it, she never hesitated:
“He asked me if I wanted to get married, and I said, ‘Yes, I do.’ So we got married the night before he was inducted in the Army.”
They were both 19 when they gathered with family and close friends for a private ceremony on Dec. 28, 1942. For a year, Pat followed her husband as he was stationed across the country.
“Army life was very interesting. I met a lot of girls – young girls like myself – following their husbands,” she said. “We weren’t supposed to, because our husbands weren’t officers, but we did anyway.”
Eventually, they ended up in Richmond, Va., before Bob was sent to the South Pacific.
Even now, 70 years later, Pat described their last goodbye with tears in her eyes: “There were three girls and then three boys saying goodbye in the back of the train, and it was very emotional. It was just like at the movies. The train took off and the three of us were standing there, and they were on the back platform of the train, waving goodbye.”
Bob spent two years in places like New Guenea, Biak, Luzon, Manila and Tokyo, while Pat lived with his mother.
When he came home in 1945, two days before their third wedding anniversary, the couple barely recognized one another.
“Bob came on the train, and he couldn’t imagine who the young lady was, standing with his brother,” Pat said. “And I didn’t recognize him either, because you go from a teenager to an adult.”
In 1949, after the war, theymoved to the Santa Clarita Valley looking for work, and have lived here ever since, raising two children, Vickie and Robert, and now enjoying two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Bob worked for the Pacific Telephone Company until 1985, and the couple continues to live in the Friendly Valley Senior Community in Newhall.
On Dec. 28, 2012 the Armachers gathered with 90 friends and relatives at the Friendly Valley Country Club to celebrate their 70th anniversary.
It is a rare milestone, but Bob says their secret to such a long, successful marriage is simple: “The secret is when you get married, plan on staying married. We’ve probably argued about everything in the world…but we have never argued about money.”
They both agree that facing the hardships of the war and post-war time together was very instrumental in strengthening their relationship, and they were determined to prove the people wrong who told them it would never last.