Betty & Hermann Wilckens | Grandparents Photo Session | Allendale, NJ | Apollo Fields Wedding Photography
66 years of marriage
We sat down with Mr. & Mrs. Wilckens to learn a little bit about life and love.
Elizabeth “Betty”, 94 years old
“He was polite, he had good manners.”
Hermann “Herm”, 93 years old
“She was a good looking woman”
They met in a bar when Betty was on a date with another man.
Hermann said she was sitting with “her boyfriend” and he just went over and started talking to her. They began dating shortly after.
Hermann: I was working for an oil company and the boss asked me one time when I am getting married. And one day I came in with the truck and all, and he said to me “Here come on in my car, we’re going to a place”. He took me to a jewelry store and I didn’t even know where I was going. He stood there and I was standing there, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. And they come out with a tray of rings and he looked them over and he picked the one and he says, “Oh, how does this one look?” I says, “It looks beautiful”.
So he took it and we went back in the car and when we got back in the office he hands it to me and says, “Here you go. You’re engaged to your girlfriend”. And I told him, “I can’t pay for that! I don’t have that much money”. So he took a little bit every week out of my salary. I mean, it’s a hell of a way to do it.
They got married in 1953 at Sacred Heart Church in Lyndhurst, NJ and had the reception at JoJo’s, the same place they met. They took a week long trip to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon.
Elizabeth: He had a gorgeous car.
Hermann: I had a 1946 Buick Roadmaster Convertible. It was black; the picture is on top of the thing over there.
The Dairy Truck
Hermann: I started the trucking business in 1950. For 17 years I had that tractor and a couple of trailers in between. I had the business for almost twenty years and then had the Chevron gas station after. My favorite thing about it was when it was a nice day going through the country, especially Canada, beautiful sceneries along the Saint Lawrence river and I passed this big resort, Rivière-du-Loup. I went once a week and then I came back, but I couldn’t understand the French people right.
They bought their house in Allendale, NJ in 1958
And have been living there ever since.
Hermann recalls a time when he got in trouble for hanging out on “Hippie Hill”:
“I was at the gas station and I went up the tavern to get a six-pack. When I come out there. There was a couple of kids and all on top of the hill, they called it Hippie Hill. One hollered and said, “Come on up”. I went up there and they drank all my beer I had to go back to the tavern to go buy another six-pack. Betty passed and saw me up there and wanted to know what I was doing up there. Oh boy, she was mad. She hollered and hollered about that.”
They went on to have three children: Larry, Nancy, and Danny.
Their first child, Lawrence: “He was a good kid. Nice, very caring".
Elizabeth: Oh, and then when they brought me the wrong baby! I was in the hospital and there were only a few other women who were nursing and they brought you the baby at like 6:00am in the morning. Larry had a full head of black hair down to his shoulders and the kid they brought me was as bald as a cucumber! The hospital thought I was going to sue them. I said “No, it was the only laugh I’ve had all week!” And then the father came in that night and thanked me for feeding his kid.
Their second child, Nancy: “She couldn’t pronounce Nancy, so she called herself “DiDi”.
Elizabeth: She was very talkative. She didn’t talk until 18 months and then all of a sudden she talked and she never stopped talking. I didn’t think she’d ever talk. I always remember when I had her and the next day I was walking in the hall and the lady who saw me the day before, she saw me and she says, “God, didn’t you have that baby yet?” I was just as fat I guess!
Their third child, Daniel: “He was kind, very caring too”
Hermann: Well, Danny was cripple. He didn’t get around right. Most of his life was in the hospital. I felt sorry for him, boy I would have never wanted to go through what he went through. I remember when it was Danny’s birthday once, I even rented a pony for all of the kids to ride around on. He was a good kid.
Accidentally growing pot:
“I parked the truck and I was walking home. And when I got to the church I saw a little flowerpot, and I picked it up and it was a little stem cause part got broken off. So I picked it up and figured I’d take it home and put it under the birdbath, it would get water and it would get sun. Boy, that thing grew like a weed and I didn’t know what it was. Finally one day, Nancy and Larry told me what it was! I didn’t know…“
“Well, I was trying on wigs and the guy saw me I guess. And I don’t know, I said one was particularly nice so he photographed me with the wig on. And then they broke the mirror and told me I had to replace the mirror. I got very upset and then they said, “You’re on candid camera!”