After 65 years, Mary Star parishioners Nick and Fran Giacalone are still in love and having fun together.Not many couples share the same surname before they get married. Not many get to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary and their 88th birthday the same month. Not many men can share how they have been ushering at the same parish for nearly six decades, and not many women can tell about how they have been ministering to sailors at the same chapel for 22 years.Except for Nicholas “Nick” and Francesca “Fran” Giacalone, who married Oct. 18, 1947. She had just celebrated her 23rd birthday (Oct. 1) and he was about to turn 23 (Oct. 21).So how would they spend their 65th wedding anniversary?“I’m taking her to El Pollo Loco,” he quipped.That’s Nick, a gentle and self-described “easy-going” spirit (and sometime wise guy). He and Fran have gained many friends over the years and they remain active in their home church, Mary Start of the Sea in San Pedro, where they earned the 2000 Appreciation Award for Outstanding Volunteers.Fran is the talkative one, while he listens intently. When his turn comes, he either ends her sentences or adds a wise comment. It is not that hard to tell they are still in love and having fun together.“We talk things over; we discuss things,” he says in explaining what has kept them together. He adds, with a grin, “You gotta know what a woman is like; women like to talk and you have to let them talk.”To which his sweetheart, sitting next to him, looking gorgeous at 88, adds simply, with a smile of her own, “He’s a great man!” Italian heritageFran Giacalone was born in San Pedro, a block away from the old Mary Star Church building, where she and her three sisters and two brothers (she’s the second to the youngest) were baptized, made First Communion and received confirmation.And it was where she married Nick, a World War II Navy veteran originally from San Diego. He had been drafted at 18 after graduating from high school and was stationed for a few days in San Pedro, while the ship on whose crew he served was repaired after being torpedoed. Nick’s duty included three years in the combat zone where the Navy helped land Marines and evacuate former Chinese president Chiang Kai-shek to Formosa (now Taiwan).Having survived the war, Nick can smile as he reminisces that “temperatures reached about 100 degrees the day we got married.” That didn’t keep them, as good Italians, from partying all day long with two receptions, a lunch and a dinner.And no, it was not an arranged marriage between the San Pedro Giacalones and the San Diego Giacalones, although Fran’s mother married her father under exactly those circumstances. Her mother was just 17 when she crossed the ocean on her own from Italy to San Francisco to marry the Sicilian fisherman who was nine years her senior. The couple then moved to San Pedro, which was becoming a fishing hub where Sicilians (and Croatians, among others) had come, seeking to raise their socioeconomic status.Fran’s father would be out fishing for days, she recalls, so her mother would gather the children to pray the rosary at least once a day so that “Papa would come home safe.”While San Pedro was being populated by first and second generations of Sicilians, an Italian fishing community called “Little Italy” was also growing in San Diego, where Nick was born and raised.“I was born in a real Italian community,” he says proudly. “Everyone in the neighborhood spoke Italian [which he still speaks once in a while], ate Italian; everything was Italian.”And they were strong Catholics.“My father was fishing all the time, but never on Good Friday,” he smiles. “He attended Mass regularly, two or three times a week. Catholicism was very important. They did the sign of the cross for everything. It was a way of life.”He was 10 years old when his mother passed away, leaving he and three brothers under the care of his father, who never remarried, and by their grandmother, who lived next door. But when he met the San Pedro Giacalones, he found a “close-knit family with no problems, a very intelligent family,” even if they were “uneducated.”After getting married, Nick developed the fisherman skills he had learned from his father and began a 10-year fishing career that took him from California to the coasts of Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru to catch the best tuna and other varieties that were sold at good prices in the United States.Then the fishing industry in the U.S. started downsizing and many canneries were closed. So Nick became self-employed: He customized a truck as a mobile fish market that took him from San Pedro and Long Beach through central and northern Orange County to a few cities in south Los Angeles County, where he built a large clientele for the next 41 years. At 3 a.m. he would go to the fish market in San Pedro, load up the truck by 6 and would not get back home until around 8 p.m. He retired at 72 when his children had grown and “it was time for him to stop,” says Fran.Active and healthyAlong the way, he became an usher at Mary Star of the Sea (where he has now volunteered for 57 years) and a member of the Christian Care ministry that distributes food to the homeless and less fortunate families. He has been active in that ministry for the last 16 years.Fran, after being a stay-at-home mother for many years, has been a very committed volunteer as well. She has served in the church’s maritime ministry for the last 22 years, serving as the bookkeeper until five years ago. She has also been active in the parent and teacher associations at her children’s schools and a Girl Scout mom. They are close to their children, and both help babysit their grandchildren, which is a key to remaining healthy and united.“Our family is the most important thing,” they reply, almost in unison. “And he has never smoked and rarely drinks,” Fran adds. They also eat a lot of fish, vegetables and soup, says Nick, who some years back became the official cook of the household.Active? Fran swam regularly at a nearby pool for 25 years until last May, and they still go for 30-minute daily walks around the same San Pedro street they have lived for 61 years. Nick loves singing Frank Sinatra-style (he even performed for the visitor) and they both love dancing. There is only one thing for which she cannot forgive him, she admits: when he interrupts her when she’s watching “Jeopardy,” her favorite TV program. “I love trivia,” she says proudly.But after 65 years, even that isn’t going to pull them apart.“No complaints in life,” they say, together. “We’ve had a beautiful life.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1109/spgiacalone/{/gallery}