He was peddling produce along coastal towns in Connecticut when he fell in love with the neighbor girl, Annie. She was a few years younger and still in high school. She’d walk with her friends in the morning, and he’d drive by in his 1932 Ford Roadster and give them a lift.
The country was still in the throes of the Great Depression, and Annie’s father wanted her to marry a man 20 years her senior. But she, too, had fallen in love, with the charming John Betar. So at just 17, she followed her heart, and they ran away together, eloping in nearby Harrison, New York.
That was more than 83 years ago.
Now, at 104 and 100 years old, respectively, John and Ann Betar will tackle a whole new frontier this Valentine’s Day: Twitter.
Named the “longest married couple in America,” according to an analysis by the World Marriage Encounter, the two will dispense marital and life advice online. It was organized by Handy, an on-demand home services company that will be collecting the questions and tweeting the Betars’ answers.
They have few expectations for their social media experiment, but they are accustomed to people asking how they’ve stayed content together for so long, and what they eat and do to keep busy.
Ann Betar still cooks, cleans, reads, makes the bed, waters the plants and hosts family gatherings, her husband boasted. And he still drives, cuts grocery coupons and handles the finances, she said.
“We’re just lucky to be together. So fortunate,” he said, in an email exchange.
John Betar is a Syrian refugee, whose family escaped during World War I. He was only 10 then, and he bounced between refugee camps for several years.
He said they send donations to support Syrian refugees now.
“I always feel the doors [to the West] should be open. They were open to me. Gee, imagine if they weren’t ...” he said.
There wouldn’t have been Annie.
One lesson they’ve taken away from their longest marriage is to be happy with the life you have.
“Live day to day within your means. Be content with what you have,” he said. “Don’t spend more than you have. Respect each other.”
To ask the Betars love and life questions, tweet @Handy with the hashtag #longestlove. The company will make a charitable contribution to an organization of the Betars’ choosing.