Sitting in their Central Street home Monday morning, Tony and Millie Gareri told tales of their wedded bliss, just about a mile from where their relationship started, more than 50 years ago.
The longtime married Stoughton residents, proud parents of four grown men and seven grandchildren, met at a mutual friends house on Holbrook Avenue in the late 1950s. Millie, now 70, was a sophomore in high school at the time. Tony, now 71, was a junior.
“I liked her looks. I liked her personality. She was fun loving and we seemed to get along pretty well,” Tony said. “She put up with all my antics.”
The two started dating, going to movies, bowling and socializing at the old Stoughton Diner.
And they spent plenty of time at football games. Tony was a center on the 1958 Stoughton High football team (he calls the 7-0-1 squad “probably the best team Stoughton ever had.”) and Millie cheered him on from the stands.
“I didn’t know anything about football, but I was there cheering,” she said.
“She still doesn’t know anything about football,” Tony joked.
Tony, who graduated in 1959, proposed to Millie when she was a senior in high school. The two got married at in Stoughton in July of 1961.
“I was a nervous wreck,” Millie recalls.
“We were both very nervous,” Tony said. “We were still young. She was 19 and I was 20. We were just kids. I had to get permission from my mother and father to get married…that’s how things worked back then.”
“Girls must have been more responsible because we didn’t need permission,” Millie joked.
The couple lived in Brockton for their first three years of marriage, before purchasing their Central Street home in Stoughton, the same one they live in today, in 1964.
While their marriage has lasted—the Gareris celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in July 2011—getting married at a young age, like they did in 1961, isn’t something Tony recommends for lovebirds today.
“I don’t think kids nowadays are as mature as we were back when we were 16, 17 years old,” he said.
“You have to care about the other person, you really do,” Tony answered when asked to give advice to younger couples.
“You don’t throw in the towel the first time something goes wrong. There’s going to be many struggles,” Millie advised.
Tony and Millie have spent the better part of the last 50 years as active members of their community.
Millie worked at for more than two decades; Tony worked at St. John’s School in Canton. They volunteered as CCD teachers and marriage preparation group advisors at in Stoughton. Millie sang in the St. James choir. Tony was a long-time umpire for Stoughton youth baseball.
Now the two spend time volunteering at the . Tony helps work at the weekly Bingo games. They also deliver meals as part of the “Meals on Wheels” program twice a week to seniors in town.
“It’s us taking care of our fellow seniors until we’re in their position,” Tony said.
They enjoy spending time with their grandchildren as well. Millie babysits for some of the younger ones.
“I still melt when they [her grandkids] walk in the door,” she said.
Their key to longevity?
“You have to listen to what your wife has to say [and] she has to listen to what you have to say…it’s a 50-50 split,” Tony said.
“It’s important to like each other’s family and get along with them,” Millie said.
And they do.
“She was the apple of my mother and father’s eye. She couldn’t do anything wrong. I could, but she couldn’t,” Tony said.
“But you couldn’t in my mother’s eye,” Millie added.
“Right,” Tony said. “In her mother’s eye, I was a prince.”