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70 years of ribbing, hamming and wedded bliss

Bob Dorothy Truhlar who will socelebrate their 70th anniversary pose Wednesday afternoAugust 3 2011 ham radio room their home Beverly

Bob and Dorothy Truhlar, who will soon celebrate their 70th anniversary, pose Wednesday afternoon August 3, 2011 in the ham radio room of their home in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

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Updated: January 23, 2012 3:22AM

Bob and Dorothy Truhlar say it must have been love at first sight.

“But I can’t really remember,” Dorothy, 89, said.

After all, that was a long time ago. Come Aug. 16, the Beverly couple will have been married for 70 years.

“We have stamina,” Dorothy assures.

One thing Bob, 90, clearly recalls, though, is the couple’s first date.

They went dancing at the Aragon Ballroom.

Afterward, when Bob pulled up in front of Dorothy’s home, her father was waiting on the porch with a brick.

“Here, I thought we were doing great,” Bob said, chuckling. “It was only 10 o’clock.”

Bob said he eventually went on to become the best of friends with his father-in-law.

“Once we got past the wedding night,” he said.

Dorothy’s father suffered separation anxiety after the ceremony at St. Mel’s Church.

“He followed us out into the hall afterward,” she said. “We didn’t know what to do with him.”

In time, she said, her father came to accept that his daughter was now part of a couple.

Both Bob and Dorothy attribute their long marriage to a healthy sense of humor, as well as a clear division of duties and a common interest in ham radio. And, they both admit, a bit of blackberry brandy every now and then doesn’t hurt.

“I made the money,” Bob said.

“And I stayed home and spent it,” Dorothy said.

So ingrained in the family’s finances was Dorothy that to this day, she remembers how much things cost. Their wedding reception for 300 people? “That was $350.”

The down payment on their first home in Franklin Park? “It was $300 and we had to borrow $200 of it,” she said.

Soon after, Dorothy said, they became like pingpong balls, moving every year or two.

In 1951 they settled into their current home, where they raised three children, Ronald, Robert and Sandra, and became ”ham radio pals” with people all over the world.

Bob has been a licensed operator since 1938. Dorothy signed on 20 years later.

They’ve attended conventions and have acquired QSL cards, which confirm radio contact was made, from countries all over the world, including Scotland, Singapore, Kuwait and many Caribbean nations. A den off the living room contains trophies they’ve acquired through ham radio competitions.

“He would go to work at 6:30 and I’d go on the radio and talk to people all over the world,” Dorothy said. “Once I set the alarm for 3:30 so I could reach somebody in Nepal.”

They even have a certificate acknowledging that they made contact with the International Space Station.

“You only have a 15-minute window to say hello and get their report,” Bob said.

Through their hobby, they’ve helped people out by updating storm conditions and, during various wars, they transmitted messages from soldiers at the front to family back home.

“We’ve made some lifelong friends through this,” Dorothy said.

Some of those friends will be attending the couple’s anniversary bash at the Sabre Room in Hickory Hills on Saturday.

About 80 people are expected to attend the party, including many of the Truhlars’ grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

“We have to divide our time at holidays and special occasions,” Bob said. Sandy and her husband, Ed Sherman, visit almost every Wednesday, along with her grandson David Nuskiewicz and his mom, Beth Nuskiewicz.

For a while, Bob owned two radio stores. Then he landed a job at Western Electric, followed by a stint at Motorola before settling into a position with Sears, where he worked for 30 years.

“That was when TV came out,” he said.

Dorothy stayed home, raised the children and sewed all her own clothes, including evening gowns. Today, she buys yarn at garage sales and crochets lap blankets, which she donates to the Illinois Veterans Home in Manteno.

After she turned 40, Dorothy applied for a job as a nurse’s aide at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park.

Bob admits he wasn’t happy about it.

“She became one of those working women,” he said. “I hated doing the laundry and washing the floors while she was gone.”

But he got over it. “Whatever she says, goes,” Bob laughed, prompting Dorothy to lightly whack him on the arm.

With good health and good spirits on their side, Bob and Dorothy admit they have been pretty lucky.

And if the luck sticks with them, they’ll jitterbug on Saturday night.

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