Mrs Tibbles lands marine
Love endures 38-year pause
By Gail Novelle
On February 15, 1943, a Hataitai teenager met a US Marine outside “The Evening Post” building in Willis Street.
On Saturday, the teenager, now a grandmother, leaves New Zealand for Los Angeles where she will be met at the airport by the marine, now a grandfather and the halls of Montezuma long gone.
They will marry in Las Vegas at the end of the month.
They have not seen each other during the 38-year gap in their romance, but in the last few months there have been a lot of letters and hundreds of dollars’ worth of toll calls.
Mrs Joyce Tibbles, of Mornington, was a 17-year- old shorthand-typist when she met her marine. He was 20.
A month after meeting they became engaged, but in October 1943 Bill Schrambling was posted to Okinawa. (Tarawa)
At first the letters and photographs kept coming.
About the time they stopped, Joyce, maiden name Tickner, went up to Hawkes Bay, as part of the Land Army. Working on the same sheep station was her first husband-to-be.
The day after Joyce posted a letter to Bill, informing him of her engagement to another man, she received a bundle of 11 of his letters. He’d been writing to her all the time, but the letters were not getting through.
This was a blow, but she decided to stick with the second engagement. In 1945 she became Mrs Tibbles.
After 30 years that marriage ended in divorce.
Last year Mrs Tibbles began planning a trip to the United States to meet a longstanding penfriend. She also wrote to Bill’s aunt, with whom she had corresponded years before, on the off chance she still had the same address.
She did. And she quietly passed Mrs Tibbles’ address on to her nephew.
“Then I got a beautiful letter from Bill, saying he was going to come and ‘check me out’ some time this year, and asking if we could meet in Los Angeles.”
He had not been idle in the intervening years either, having acquired seven children and the same number of grandchildren. His wife had died the preceding October.
“Then followed hundreds of dollars worth of toll calls between the two of us, and lots of letters, and then about five weeks ago he popped the question.
“I’ve brought my trip forward as much as I can, and I can’t wait.
“It’s terrible carrying on a romance thousands of miles away!
Mrs Tibbles says she is not nervous about meeting her marine again after nearly 40 years, just very, very excited.
“In a letter I got yesterday, he told me if I’m not sure where to find him, listen for the drum – it will be the sound of his heart beating.
“When I rang him I told him my heart will be beating like a drum too. We’ll probably cancel each other out.”
Mr Schrambling’s family has apparently told him he’s crazy but Mrs Tibbles’ family – two sons and five grandchildren – does not think she is.
“One of my sons told me I must be the luckiest woman in the world to get a second chance like this.”
In September, the newly-married Mr and Mrs Schrambling will be returning to New Zealand to settle in Wellington.
Photo caption – Mrs Tibbles has not seen her marine for nearly 40 years, but she has plenty of photographs. From left, they show Mr Schrambling after their parting, the day after their engagement in March 1943, and as he is today.