Diamond anniversary for schoolyard chums
MUCH has changed since Norm and Verlie Madsen crossed paths as five-year-olds in the first grade at Freestone State School.
The couple, who last week celebrated an impressive 60 years of wedded bliss, have spent their lives in the Southern Downs and have watched the world change around them.
Norm and Verlie often reflect on their younger years, kicking around the Freestone and Warwick traps, and say they were blessed to enjoy simpler days.
"We often say we grew up in the best of times. There are so many dreadful things happening now - back then you could trust everybody," Verlie said.
"You could ride your bike into town at Warwick and if you got a lift home you could leave it in the racks in the middle of the street. And it would be waiting for you the next day - you didn't have to worry about anyone taking it."
Although they mostly have fond memories of their younger days, Verlie and Norm said they both remember the impact the Second World War had on them as schoolchildren.
"The parents came into school and dug trenches and we would have practices where we would have to sit in a certain spot," Verlie said.
"I remember my parents would talk about it and my brother and I would cry at the table because we thought the war was at Swan Ck. We were so scared because we didn't understand.
"The day it ended there was great excitement and we got to town and everything was closed because people were off celebrating."
It was only after Norm and Verlie, who as children shared the same surname but were not related, moved from Freestone School to Warwick High that they started to look at each other as more than just friends.
Although Norm is adamant he used to wave to his future wife across the school grounds, Verlie is not so sure that is the case.
"I don't remember those waves at all, to be honest," she laughed.
Norm said a teenage Verlie held a torch for him as he constructed a display at the Warwick Show and from that moment, their fate was sealed.
"I looked at her and thought 'she's a pretty good looking girl', and I took her on the haunted castle and the merry-go-round but the dodgems were what we liked best," Norm said.
"After that we would go out and we did a bit of dancing, went to the pictures at King's Theatre and had picnics at the Killarney Falls," Norm said.
"Back in those days you sat on the side of the truck with your legs over the side."
"Not if you belonged to my father, you didn't," Verlie was quick to clarify.
It is clear Verlie still loves the man she fell in love with all those decades ago, as much as ever.
"I never looked at anyone else after that - a few were asking but I wasn't interested," she said.
"I didn't know about this," Norm laughed.
Married at St Mark's Church on September 4, 1954, Mr and Mrs Madsen will mark their 60th wedding anniversary with a party later this month.
And there is no doubt where Norm's attention will be.
"I still get a buzz when I see her," Norm said.
"If we are at bowls or a function and I walk back in and spot her, I still get a buzz."
"It's because he knows I make good scones," Verlie said.