When Vera and John Peterson were pronounced husband and wife in 1939, a loaf of bread cost 8 cents, a gallon of gas cost 10 cents and Nazi Germany was invading Poland.
Seventy-seven years later, the Illinois couple are still married, still in love and still have their wits about them.
Their wedding anniversary was Wednesday, and on Saturday they will celebrate with as many of their seven children, 18 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren who can make it.
“We’re just going to have a small gathering of the family,” Randall Peterson, the eldest child, told InsideEdition.com Thursday. “After you celebrate so many of them, you try not to make a big deal out of them,” the 76-year-old said.
But it is a big deal, at least to people outside the family. As word spread that Vera, who is 100, and John, who is 99, were approaching their 77thanniversary, stories began popping up in local media. John will turn 100 in March.
And then the networks began calling.
“I was on Good Morning America today, an incredulous Randall said. And all he wanted to do Thursday was eat his lunch.
“How long will this take?” he asked when InsideEdition.com called. “I have to go to work.”
The Petersons are just that way. They work hard. They keep their heads down. They have an abiding faith in God.
Randall’s parents taught them those things.
“They gave us a good moral background. They taught us to be fair and honest to people. We worked with our neighbors,” he said.
He and his siblings grew up on the family’s farm near Pearl City, population 650. “Dad had corn and oats and hay. We had livestock – beef and hogs. We milked cows and we had chickens.”
His father sold the property to a neighbor in the 1970s, and his mother went to work in a nursing home after all the children were grown.
They now live in a senior citizen community, but they are very active, their son says. They go to the gym several times a week. They take walks. His mother likes to work puzzles.
“They’re pretty clued-in to what’s going on,” he said.
“We keep telling them they have to exercise or they know what the next step is,” their son said.
Both parents have never lost their appreciation of laughter. “Mom’s a pun-type person. Dad has a dry sense of humor.”
He’s not sure why his parents have lived so long. They just don’t seem to get sick.
“Mom hadn’t been in the hospital since the birth of their last child,” he said. “When she was 97 she went in and had a pacemaker put in.”
But they know they are deeply fortunate to have both longevity and companionship.
“They are very aware that it’s a blessing they are able to be together and to enjoy their family” on their anniversary.
“They realize it’s a milestone that’s not seen by a lot of people,”