Frank Sinatra’s Strangers in the Night was playing in the background as Nelson Bay resident Milton Haines chatted away.
‘Strangers in the Night exchanging glances, wondering in the night, what were the chances we’d be sharing love before the night was through,’ the song begins.
It was quite a poetic moment as 90-year-old Milton explained how he met his wife Joy.
According to Milton, it was love at first sight.
On 29 August 1953, Milton, amid a six-year stint with the Navy, attended a board meeting and went back to a hotel nearby.
He then exchanged glances with a young lady sitting across the room.
“Joy was with her mother, who said: ‘That bloke is looking at you over there’,” Milton recalls.
“That was the story I got, and so I was. She looked back, and that started it.”
A whirlwind romance saw Milton propose on 12 September, and they were married on 17 October – all in the same year.
After raising five children and welcoming 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, the couple is now set to celebrate 67 years together next weekend.
While there has been heartbreak along the way, including Joy’s three bouts of cancer and losing their first child, love is ever-present.
“We’ve had good kids, they followed us, were good workers,” Milton says.
“I worked with Coca-Cola and was carrying wooden crates all day and we went into business – we had two fish and chip shops that were quite successful.
“So, if we were going to have any arguments, we’d have had them in that [time].”
The pair moved to Nelson Bay in 1986. Milton drove community buses for the next nine years and Joy looked after the town hall.
And, while Joy’s health has deteriorated over the past few months, the pair remain side-by-side at their home in Little Beach.
Daughter Vicki says her new role as carer has provided special moments with her parents after a busy career that took her across the world.
“[Milton’s] love of Joy is keeping him alive,” she says.
“With COVID, we don’t want them in a retirement village, we want them at home.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to be with my parents. I worked at Channel Nine for 25 years, travelled the world and did Australian Idol, and this is my time to give back to them.
“We’re often consumed about thinking of what we’re missing out on versus being in the moment and understanding that you don’t get this time back.”
Milton and Joy will celebrate their anniversary on Saturday (17 October).