If you’ve been married for any length of time, you know that each passing year of marriage brings with it the need for anniversary gift, particularly for those husbands among us.
Those first few years are simple to handle - thank goodness - the first year is paper, the second year is cotton, and the third year is leather.
By the time you reach a decade, you’re still only having to buy something out made from in or aluminum, but it starts getting pricey from there - lace at 13, crystal at 15, china at 20, and silver at 25.
From there, you’re in Big Boy Country - pearls at 30, rubies at 40, gold at 50, emerald at 55, and the biggest of them all - diamonds for your 60th wedding anniversary.
All of that instruction is well and good unless you’re Robert Johnson, a resident of Rittenhouse Village at Portage in Indiana.
You see, Robert has from now until November 2017 to figure out what to get your wife when you’ve been married a staggering 70 years.
What he lacks in original gift idea, Johnson makes up for in sage advice about how to make your marriage last as long as his has.
“Stay busy, both of you,” the 94-year-old Johnson says. “Do that, and don’t go to bed mad at one each other. I never put my hand up to her even one time, and we did what we could to keep our disagreeing to a minimum.”
Born in Jasper County, Indiana, on April 23, 1923, Johnson moved around Indiana with his family from Valparaiso to New Chicago to East Gary, Indiana, straight out of a Broadway musical.
He lived in East Gary from age to 12 to age 92, growing as the town grew, and grow it did. East Gary nearly doubled in size between 1920 and 1930 and the population rose every decade from then on into the 1970s.
Like a lot of other young men in the city, Johnson went to work for US Steel at the Gary Works Plant on the shores of Lake Michigan. At the time, it was the largest steel mill in the world, and Johnson worked as an armature winder - finding broken parts inside the machinery and repairing or replacing them.
He didn’t just contribute to the local economy, he gave back to the community.
“I was a volunteer fireman and I also drove an ambulance,” Johnson recalls. “I did those things for 43 years.”
It took Johnson only nine months way back in 1947 to figure out he wanted to marry his wife. The pair had four children and three grandsons. One of their daughters lived in nearby Portage and encouraged them to move that way when their health began to deteriorate a bit as they entered their 90s.
“We’ve been here three years, my daughter didn’t want us livin alone anymore,” Johnson said. “I sold our house and we moved over here. I don’t have to mow the grass any more or plant the flowers, which is nice. We can do what we want to do every day, and that’s a blessing.”