Ask Natale Tognetti about the secret to staying married for 75 years, and first, you'll get a smile.
"I have a secret," the Farmington Hills resident said. "Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am."
Natale and Marguerite Tognetti agree they're opposites in many ways. He's very sociable, while she is more quiet. The two did share a love of skating, and that's how they met – at a skating party in Calumet. He was 14; she was 13.
"I asked her to skate, and we started skating together," Natale said.
"We've been skating on thin ice ever since," Marguerite added.
The couple would go for walks, but as friends. Their relationship was not love at first sight. In fact, it was four years before they decided to get married. Natale had graduated and was working; Marguerite was in her last year of high school and skipped school so they could go to get a marriage license.
"Luckily, I had my babysitting money, so I paid for the license," Marguerite recalled.
The young couple couldn't find a Catholic priest who would perform the ceremony, so they got married in a Norwegian Lutheran church, which got them kicked out of the Catholic church, Marguerite said. They didn't tell their parents; Marguerite's mother discovered her daughter was married when she read a letter Natale had written. And Natale's father read about the marriage license application in a local newspaper.
After the ceremony, they drove around eating chocolate-covered peanuts – their "wedding feast," Marguerite said. At a 75th wedding anniversary party the family held last month at the Huron River Hunting & Fishing Club in Farmington, all 28 guests had the same treat at their tables.
The Tognettis' faces beam when they talk about the celebration with their two children, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Marguerite said her favorite part was "seeing all the kids together, and everybody so happy to see us."
"We're proud of our family," Natale said. "Everybody's doing fine. They're all healthy."
Over the years, the couple has seen their share of hardships and hard work. The Tognettis lived first with his parents, then with other family members before they could afford to move out on their own. They eventually bought property in Warren, and Natale literally built their first home, quite an accomplishment considering he has been legally blind since he was a child.
Today, they rarely get out of their Grand Court apartment, where they have lived for the past four years. Both have taken falls and have some trouble getting around. But as they sit in their small living room, they banter easily and clearly enjoy each other's company.
"We have a sense of humor," Marguerite said.
Natale flashes another smile. "To me," he said, "she gets prettier all the time."