Ocala couple’s long love story still going strong
Melvin and Alice Brandis who are 92 and 90-years-old, pose together with photos from their wedding 72 years ago. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
Seventy-four years ago this week, Melvin Brandis offered a cute girl a ride home from roller skating.
He was 18, and she was almost 16. Melvin admits that, for him, it was love at first sight.
Every year in the Christmas card he gives his wife, he writes the kind of heartfelt sentiments that have kept the spark in their love story all these years.
This year, the envelope was addressed: “My Dearest Love, Alice.” Inside, he wrote messages including “You are my sunshine” and “You are the greatest. Love you so much and hope we can do it for a lot more years.”
“I always get cards from him; he writes nice things in them. He’s a keeper,” Alice Brandis said with a big smile.
This time of year has always been special for the couple; it was Christmas 1947, after nearly two years of roller skating, ice cream dates and Sunday drives, that Melvin asked her to become his wife.
“He asked me to marry him, and I said sure I would,” she said. “Then he had to ask my father. It was Christmas, and he gave me a ring.”
Her engagement ring cost $149, a tidy sum for a farmworker making $7 a week.
When they married on June 26, 1948, about 45 guests filled the little church in Telford, Pennsylvania. Alice wore a simple white peplum dress, a white hat and a corsage. Melvin wore a double-breasted suit with a single white flower in his lapel. They honeymooned in Atlantic City for just one night; they both had to be back at work on Monday morning.
Early in their marriage, Melvin worked as a milkman by day, painting in the evenings and also helping at a butcher shop. Alice worked in a girdle factory. About 2 1/2 years after they married, they had the first of five children.
“We just lived one day at a time and helped others when we could,” Alice said.
In the winter of 1978, the couple visited Fort Lauderdale. On the way home, Melvin told Alice he wanted to move to Florida. The sunny, warm climate was better for her arthritis.
“The second day down here, she was riding a bicycle,” he said. “At home, she couldn’t even walk.”
They lived in South Florida for a short time and then many years in Fort Myers before moving to Ocala’s Rolling Greens Village in July 2019.
Now 92 and 90, Melvin and Alice enjoy playing bingo every week and going to church on Sundays. Alice attributes their longevity to the vegetable, fruit and peanut butter smoothies she makes every day.
Alice Sames-Hobbs, a niece who lives down the street, says her 92-year-old uncle just wants to make it to 100.
She said the couple can serve as role models for a healthy marriage, noting they hold hands all the time and are truthful, loving and kind to each other.
Alice Brandis believes the secret to a long, happy marriage is simple: “We tell each other every night we love each other. We kiss each other all the time.”