When Norman and Arvilla Christensen were united in marriage, there was no elaborate wedding ceremony or big dinner.
“We didn’t have big weddings back then. We got married on a shoestring. My mom and dad had a dinner for us at their home,” Arvilla said.
She was a member of Mt. Morris Lutheran Church, and she and Norman were married at the parsonage.
He was 20 – well, almost 21 – and she was 19. They were high school sweethearts.
“One of my girlfriends was his cousin. She was the cupid,” Arvilla said. “I always say I got him in a square corner and then, he couldn’t get away.”
She smiled as she said that. Arvilla admits that she likes to pick on others and have a good time.
“I always do all the talking,” she said. “He don’t have a chance.”
At this, Norman smiles.
On Tuesday, Oct. 19, the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Their friends who live in the same apartment building in Waupaca treated them to a luncheon.
Arvilla learned of their surprise that morning when she headed to the lobby area to make coffee – something she does every morning.
A sign above the coffee maker invited them to a luncheon that afternoon in their honor.
“I kept telling them we’re not celebrating with a big party, because I get emotional,” she said.
She and Norman had celebrated their anniversary the previous weekend when their son Larry and daughter-in-law Judith took them out to dinner.
Norman and Arvilla also have two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
They received flowers and numerous cards and talked about their many years of marriage as their anniversary luncheon ended.
When they were asked how they knew they wanted to be married, Norman said, “We went to high school together. It’s been really good.”
Arvilla said, “We just fell in love. We’ve been inseparable all our lives. Whatever he did, I was his right-hand man.”
They are graduates of Wild Rose High School.
“We sure had a lot of money when we got married,” Norman said, as he exchanged a smile with his wife.
“Yeah – a couple bucks,” she said. “We were always happy. You got married, and this is the way it is.”
Arvilla remembers that they received a few pots and pans as gifts.
“We didn’t buy anything until we had the money to pay for it. We were satisfied,” she said.
She sees this as being a problem for newly married couples today. “Everyone wants cars, new furniture and all now,” Arvilla said.
While she does not deny people from having such things, she sees many young couples not being satisfied with what they have and willing to wait before making big purchases.
“We never thought about complaining. Sometimes, we had $2 to last from one paycheck to another,” Arvilla said.
The Christensens started out on a farm – initially renting it from his father. “We had cattle, chickens, hogs – all the stuff farmers have,” she said.
They farmed for 25 years, with Norman also working nights at Speed Queen for a number of years to keep the farm going.
Eventually, they sold the farm. Norman began working in well drilling, and they later had their own business.
Waupaca residents since 1967, they retired in 1982.
They enjoyed traveling – going to such places as Europe, Japan and Greenland. They’ve been to the Vatican and have seen the Great Wall of China.
Arvilla said when they got married, no one had any money. “You made your own entertainment,” she said.
Norman remembers the barn dances, and she remembers dance parties held in homes and playing cards.
They still like to play cards, and Arvilla plays pool at the senior center and also walks 1 miles each day.
“We’ve known each other since we were kids,” she said. “Every year goes faster.”
As a couple and as the parents of their son, they did things together, whether it was working on their farm or going fishing.
And, that is Arvilla’s advice to other couples – to work together.
“Just be good to your wife,” said Norman.
“That’s right,” Arvilla said. “He never was one of those guys who went out with the guys. We were always together. He was my shadow. I was his.”