When Mantua Township Mayor Pete Scirrotto met his soon-to-be wife Marge in a typing class at Highland Regional High School, he knew she was the one.
Two years later in 1971 — when Pete was 18 and Marge 19 — they vowed eternal love. Almost 50 years later, they’ve kept that promise.
The Sun sat down with the mayor (Marge was caring for their ill 2-year-old granddaughter at interview time) to talk about how the couple has kept that promise, what makes a good marriage and their favorite things to do together.
The Sun: Tell me about the first time you met.
Pete: We first met in typing class at age 16, where students learned how to type on the computer. I got to know her when she was a cheerleader and I was a football player and wrestler at Highland Regional High School. This was back in the day when high schools used to have a section in their yearbook of best looking student in the graduating class. She was voted “best looking.” I just knew it would be her.
The Sun: You both got married so young. How did that happen?
Marge, in a letter to The Sun: I knew then I was meeting the nicest guy in the world. Three-and-a-half years later, we were married. We still had so much growing up to do.
Pete: We didn’t start dating until my early senior year. Soon after that, it got serious. The following year, we were married. I think we both wanted out of our parents’ house. But at that time, people got married earlier.
The Sun: You knew she was the one, but how did you get to know her?
Pete: My friend and I visited Europe when I was 16. I only sent a couple people postcards when I was out there, but one of them was sent to Marge. The postcard was of the Eiffel Tower, sent from Paris. Marge still has that postcard to this day. I believe I sent it in 1969.
The Sun: You’ve been married to Marge for 48 years. What makes a good marriage?
Pete: I think it’s communication and a good sense of humor. Don’t take things too seriously. We always worked hard. I think working hard together is important. I come from a strong family background, so I think family is everything to us. We have good friends and family and I think that’s important today, to surround yourself with that. And I think that’s what makes a good marriage.
I used to work on the side to make extra money to put my kids through college. I think that was really important to my wife because we both didn’t go to college so it was important to us to put them through college. We always felt like that was an accomplishment to us.
The Sun: How have you kept that promise you both made in 1971 after all these years?
Marge: We always communicated well. Not to say that we didn’t have ups and downs like everybody else. We have a respect for each other’s interests. We both put each other’s needs first, then everyone is happy. Pete always encouraged me in the job I held for 44 years and I have an understanding of the demands of the township and duties as mayor. It’s a lot of hard work to be married for as many years as we have. I believe what made our marriage stronger through the years was communication.
Pete: I think everybody thinks it’s always greener on the other side, until they get there and it’s really not. I think to be married for 48 years, that’s a longevity that people don’t run into today. It’s a lot of give and take.
The Sun: Is there anything you do as a couple that keeps you both grounded?
Marge: Since our children were small, we’ve always made an effort to take time for ourselves, even if it was dinner out once a month. We still do this by getting in the car for a day without plans of where we will end up. Just time to talk without looking at our phones and without interruptions.
Pete: We always liked to take rides. We’d get in the car and just drive. We‘d go up to Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania; Frenchtown; and Lambertville. No cell phones. You sort of can talk to each other. At home, everybody’s just all over the place, but in the car, you’re in the car with just her. It’s therapeutic for us. We’ll get breakfast out. It might sound boring, but we just get in the car and go. Of course, I love Navy, so we like to go to Annapolis, Maryland, to watch a game and then stay there for a weekend. We even do stuff like this to this day. We’re going down to Cape May during Valentine’s Day weekend. We’re staying at the Congress Hall.