It was a nail-biting race to the bitter end. For a week, Mahwah and Ramsey voters were torn between two cute couples – Mary and Alan, a Ramsey couple who started dating a year ago, and Gerry and Bob, a Mahwah couple who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
By the end of the Valentine’s Day contest, Mary and Alan were crowned Patch’s Cutest Couple by a slim margin – 171 votes to 161.
Though the prize up for grabs was a good one – a $50 gift card to Zaytoon Mediterranean Cuisine in Mahwah and a pair of stylish Patch t-shirts, Mary and Alan decided to give their winnings to the runners up.
“They totally deserved to win,” Mary said. “50 years together is something that deserves to be honored.”
The quartet met Thursday night at the restaurant to exchange winnings and stories. Despite a 50-year gap between the couples, the stories of how they both met were somewhat similar.
Mary and Alan met through mutual friends in Hoboken in the beginning of 2012 during a weekend when Mary was home from school.
“I just went out one night on a whim,” Mary said. The two have been dating ever since.
Mary, a lifelong Ramsey resident, recently graduated from Marist College and works at Net-a-Porter in Mahwah. Alan, who is from Montvale, graduated in 2011 from Hartwick College in NY, where he played football. He now works in sales at the PNC Bank Arts Center.
Bob and Gerry met on a night out, too. The two were at a restaurant/bar called Hennessey’s, in Monroe, N.Y. in 1962 when mutual friends introduced them.
“I was there for the dancing,” Gerry said. “He danced, which was a good thing for him, because otherwise it would have been a no-go.”
When they first got married in December of that year, Bob was 19 and Gerry was 20.
“We actually had to get married in Connecticut, because I was too young to get married in New Jersey,” Bob said. The two were married by a Justice of the Peace at a Revolutionary War House in Greenwich.
But, that would prove to be only the first of several marriages for the duo.
Two years later, they were married at a church in Midland Park, where Gerry is originally from.
“Our parents wanted us to do the whole church wedding thing,” Gerry said.
And, for the couple’s 42nd wedding anniversary, “we were married by Elvis,” Gerry said.
The couple was in Las Vegas for a professional convention when Gerry quipped that it might be fun to have a tacky Vegas wedding. So, she planned one.
The bride and groom were wearing cowboy and cowgirl frocks, the ceremony was filled with people from the convention, and the reception, at a nearby Vegas hotel, was filled with Klingons who were in town for a Star Trek convention.
“It was pretty wild,” Bob said.
The couple has lived in Mahwah since 1964. “We love it here,” Gerry said. “It’s very homey.”
They have three kids and five grandkids, and have owned and operated Baron Pool Service on Mechanic Street in Ramsey since 1981.
“You don’t see too many people who are married 50 years anymore,” Alan said. “It’s a big deal.”
So, Thursday night, the four met at Zaytoon, and Mary and Alan handed over the $50 gift certificate they received for winning Patch’s Cutest Couple Contest.
“We are just starting out,” Mary said. “After 50 years, we felt [the Baron’s] really deserved it.”
In exchange, the Barons gave the young couple some advice.
“It’s not always easy, but you’ve got to respect each other,” Gerry said. “Work it out, and don’t run out the door after the first fight. It’s all that cliché stuff really, but I guess it works,” she told Mary.
Her advice came with an offer.
“If you need help, give me a call.”