By Gloria Austin
They met in a park in Somerville, Mass. when she caught his eye from a distance. She was busy talking with friends when he noticed this shy young lady. The story goes that one of her friends introduced the two, but he disagrees. He was captivated. “I went over to talk with her,” he recalls.
For 68 years, they have been together, and they are living proof that marriage can be for forever.
Barbara and John Garibotto are in the latter stages of their lives relocating to Gardiner Nursing Facility in Houlton, but they still enjoy just being together.
“She still dresses up to see him,” said daughter-in-law Debbie Bone-Garibotto. “She has her hair done and puts on her pearls.”
The couple met when she was 16 and he a young man of 21. The two married on June 10. 1942, and honeymooned in Old Orchard Beach, staying at the Bernard. The couple danced to the “Big Band” music on the old pier.
The Garibottos started their family on Aug. 9, 1943 with the birth of their first son, John. The couple had a second son, Ronald, on Dec. 23, 1944, and a daughter, Susan Magoon, on May 24, 1950.
The couple, as others, weathered the storms of marriage through World War II. Papa John served in the United States Army from 1944-45 in France.
“That probably was one of the toughest times for them,” said their daughter-in-law.
Living with John’s relatives, Barbara had a small son and was pregnant with her second. Their daughter-in-law recalls a story that his relatives kept a telegram from her stating that he had been wounded. He earned the Purple Heart for his gallantry.
After being discharged in 1945, Papa John went to work as an engineer with Stone and Webster in Boston, while his wife was a homemaker.
“The two are joined at the hip,” said their daughter-in-law. “They are together all the time. It’s good old Catholic blood.”
The couple lived in Massachusetts for 60 years before moving to Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth. In later years, they spent winters in Florida.
As Papa John’s health fails, his only concern is for his wife because “she is such a good girl.”
“He just wants to make sure she is always happy,” said their daughter-in-law. “He wants her happy even though he is ill.”
So, for now, Papa John will say, “I love you.” And Barbara answers, “Don’t forget.”
By Gloria Austin