Couple’s 36-year marriage began with quick courtship

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In August of 1981 they went on a date. They got engaged on Christmas day of that same year. The following February, they were married.

John and MaryAnn Mondello like to move quickly. In August of 1981, they went on a date. They got engaged on Christmas Day of that same year. The following February, they were married.

“There was no reason,” said MaryAnn. “We just decided to get married and that was it.”

John and MaryAnn’s marriage is the second marriage for both of them, so you could say they were used to the process.

“We were able to get married in church, which was more important to me because he never got married in church,” MaryAnn said. “So we got married over here at St. Nick’s. And we’ve been here ever since.”

John, 91, spent his entire working career as a shoe worker. He spent some time in the Army in the ’40s, and he’s even old enough to remember some of the Great Depression.

“I was probably about 12, 13 years old,” he said. “My parents knew [better, but] I remember some of it. I can’t explain it. We were poor, let’s put it that way.”

MaryAnn, 75, worked as a bank teller for 35 years before retiring when she was 62. She loves to cook.

“I like to make different stuff,” she said. “As long as I can follow the recipe, I’m good.”

Both of them have lived their entire lives in Philadelphia, except for a brief five-year period in which MaryAnn lived in Horsham before the two got married.

“I didn’t like Horsham,” she said. “I couldn’t wait until I got back here.”

MaryAnn loves her home city of Philadelphia, particularly her neighborhood in Central South Philly — east of Broad Street. “I like it because it’s convenient. My mother and I always used to walk to Passyunk Avenue…We always walked to Broad Street or walked to Passyunk Avenue when we were young.”

Nowadays, when John and MaryAnn get out of the house, they like to be active with other seniors. They play a lot of bingo and often spend time at the South Philadelphia Older Adult Center. Every year, they head up to a lodge in the Poconos with other local seniors.

Later this month, on the 27th, the Mondellos will celebrate their 36th year of marriage. What’s the key to being together for so long?

“Don’t go to bed mad at each other,” said MaryAnn. “Make up before you go to bed.”

“We go everywhere together,” said John. “We’re never separate.”