Mary walked her dog past a pickup ball game when her next-door neighbor, Bud, broke off from the other boys to ask her to the movies.
“I guess I was auditioning women for my future,” said Bud.
“I said yes, but I really don’t know why,” said Mary.
They saw Son of Frankenstein at a Conshohocken theater — Bud paid for the two, 10-cent tickets. “Afterward, we walked five blocks to the drugstore for ice cream sodas,” he said.
It was fun, and led to more dates, but “we weren’t going steady, or anything,” said Mary.
Bud, who was a senior, studied at Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic High School. He enlisted in the Air Force and left for training in Nebraska right after graduation. Mary was a sophomore at Conshohocken High. They wrote to each other, but when Bud’s words turned more serious, Mary knew she had to do the right thing.
“She wrote me a ‘Dear John’ letter,” Bud said.
“I was young, and I wanted to be able to date,” said Mary.
“Mary’s family was from Germany. I’m Irish, and they were wishing for a German,” Bud interjects. Mary did not care one whit about his nationality, she stresses, and the decision not to go steady was hers alone. But Bud is right that her parents strongly encouraged her to dance with the boys at their local German club.
Bud was preparing for combat when World War II ended. Twenty-three months after he left Conshohocken, he was back home. That same day in June 1946, Mary answered his knock and he handed her an envelope.
“He gave me my Dear John letter back,” she said.
They were soon together again, and this time, neither wanted to see anyone else. They ended every night talking through windows that faced each other’s house, close enough for their quiet voices to be heard. One day Bud took Mary to a jewelry store and then, about two months after he came home, he sat next to her on her front porch swing and asked her to marry him.
On Nov. 12, 1946, Mary G’Danitz married Bud Munro at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Conshohocken. Later that day, 60 people saw Mary dance with a young man at her parents’ German club — her new husband, who by then, her parents loved, too. The couple honeymooned in Atlantic City.
A life built together
The couple first lived in Conshohocken. Bud enrolled in television repair classes in Philadelphia and spent his career repairing TVs, mostly at Bryn Mawr Stereo, until he retired in 1988. Mary worked for Bell Telephone, at first as an operator who plugged in wires to connect customers’ calls, then later in the clerical department. She retired in 1989. Money was so tight in the beginning that they had a coin-operated refrigerator fed with quarters often provided by both sets of parents.
Their first child, Rose Marie, was born in 1947, followed in later years by sons Butch and Bill. In 1951, the family moved to East Norriton, where Mary, who is now 93, and Bud, now 95, still live. “We took a lot of car rides in those days, because gas was only 15 cents,” said Bud. He and Mary loaded the kids into their big, red 1957 station wagon, with fins in the back and red and white upholstery inside. They traveled to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and once a year spent a week down the Shore. The rest of the summer was spent at a local swim club in Plymouth Valley, where the family sometimes had supper during the week and always joined the crowds in the pool on Saturday and Sunday.
It was a proud and happy moment when, in 1984, Bud and Mary bought the camping trailer they keep in Sea Isle City, where they stay every summer. These days it gets pretty crowded: The couple now have six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, and everyone is always welcome at Oma and Opa’s.
Asked what has kept them happy together for more than seven decades, Bud is quick to answer: “I always said it was the German food,” he said. “I could eat her baked beans every night.” There’s no doubt he loves those beans, but after a breath, Bud has a second answer. “Mary worked for 30 years and yet she was always ready to take care of us,” he said. “We always had our parents here for the holidays, and, over the years we have been married, I think we were only 20 years by ourselves. The rest of the time, we had a mother here, or a brother. One time, we had two grandchildren. We have three bedrooms, but only one bath, and there were multiple generations under one roof, all getting ready for work or school. She has sacrificed so much for all of us.”
Mary sounds pleased by his answer, but she clarifies that he was working hard, too. “We listen to each other. We help each other. We always did everything together,” she said. “We’re soul mates.”
She also loves that her soul mate cleans the bathroom.
Much to celebrate in November
The couple have been mostly lucky with their health. However, about two years ago, Mary had a bowel obstruction, which turned out to be a twist. “We were lucky they were able to untwist it without removing anything, but she had to spend four nights in a row there after the operation,” said Bud.
Mary made a full recovery. Then, last June, her pacemaker was recalled and had to be replaced.
Both times, “he came to the hospital every day,” Mary said.
“Our family really helped,” said Bud. “They were trying years, but we were able to survive them.”
The couple will celebrate Mary’s return to good health and their 75th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal and reception for 80 at Norristown Maenner-Chor — the German club where their wedding reception was held. The wedding cake will be topped with the miniature bride and groom who stood atop their cake in 1946. And they will dance to what has always been their song: Perry Como’s “Till the End of Time.”