Joy Young may not remember meeting Donald Carter when the two were babies, but on Thursday the couple celebrated 60 years of marriage.
The couple, both 81, grew up on neighbouring farms and even though there is about nine months’ age difference, were in the same class at Mandeville Primary School.
When it came time for secondary school, Mrs Carter went to Timaru Girls’ High and Mr Carter to Gore High School.
Mrs Carter said she did not really take much notice of her future husband when they were growing up.
‘‘He was the neighbour and he was just a person who came by with his dad or mum.’’
In those days people did not travel much and socialised with their neighbours in the district, she said.
Mr Carter left school at the age of 15.
During the holidays in Mrs Carter’s last year at school, Mr Carter rang her up and asked if she would like to go with him to a Young Farmers’ Club dance at Waimumu.
She had a friend staying, so all three of them went to the dance.
‘‘Away we went in the old Commer truck — no seat belts, hard seats, freezing cold to the Waimumu hall.’’
After she arrived home at the end of the school year, she had not been there five minutes when Mr Carter turned up to talk to her father.
‘‘[Dad] reckoned Donald must have been on the woolshed roof to see the car go up the road.’’ The pair began courting, and the next year Mrs Carter started her nursing training at Seddon Memorial Hospital in Gore.
About four years later, they married.
Friendship was key to the success of their marriage, they said.
‘‘We were friends long before we fell in love,’’ Mrs Carter said.
‘‘You should be marrying your best friend,’’ Mr Carter said.
They worked well as a team, and had survived some tough times when finances were tight.
‘‘You stay home, you have the orchard, the vege garden, the chooks and you eat what you grow and you survive,’’ she said.
‘‘If you’ve got someone to confide in it makes the journey a lot lighter,’’ he said.
Their Christian faith was another important influence in the marriage.
‘‘Through it all the man upstairs never lets you down,’’ she said.
The couple have five children, 13 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
They celebrated the anniversary with a lunch for family and friends.