Jerry and Peggy first met each other at Ideal Beach in May of 1950, before its name was changed to Indiana Beach.
Peggy was hanging out with a girl who Jerry had gone on a couple of dates with, and Jerry had gone down to Ideal Beach with one of his own friends.
Jerry was instantly attracted to Peggy’s smile and personality.
After listening to big band concerts, the boys left and were driving back to Kokomo, when Jerry’s friend told him that he asked Peggy for her number, but she wouldn’t give it to him.
That’s because she had already given her number to Jerry.
“He stopped the car and said ‘get your fanny out of here,’” Jerry said. “That’s [fanny] not the word he used.”
Jerry’s and Peggy’s first date was the movies, where they saw “Cheaper by the Dozen.” Jerry would drive to pick Peggy up from Logansport (where she was from) and take her to Kokomo since there was more to do.
They’d go to movies and go to Highland Park to see the animals, the Sycamore stump, and Old Ben.
There was one date when Jerry couldn’t pick Peggy up because he was working, so the plan was for Peggy to take the bus from Logansport to Kokomo and his mom would pick her up.
Peggy was wearing a yellow linen dress and brown and white spectator pumps, and was preparing to meet Jerry’s mom for the first time.
Everything was going smoothly and she and his mom were walking down the street in Kokomo, when all of a sudden a pigeon flew overhead and decided at that precise moment to release its bowels.
Unfortunately, Peggy was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The front of her dress and one side of her got completely covered in pigeon poop.
“I was so embarrassed and his mother just laughed and laughed and laughed,” Peggy said.
His mom helped clean her up, and it was a definite ice-breaker moment for the two. As 1951 approached, Jerry decided to make a change in his and Peggy’s relationship.
He was hesitant to make a move, since he was the perfect draft age for the Korean War, but he decided to take a chance on love.
He asked Peggy for his class ring back.
“I thought he was breaking up with me,” Peggy said. Jerry had a different plan in mind.
“When he took [the class ring], he put an engagement ring on my finger,” Peggy said. “But to this day, he never asked me to marry him. So I don’t know if we’re legally married or not,” she joked.
The engagement came as a surprise to Peggy, she had no idea he was that interested in her, but she was happy, although she wasn’t too keen on him entering the service.
For the next several months, Jerry went to basic training in Kentucky, and he and Peggy only saw each other a few times.
One Wednesday in May, Jerry called Peggy while she was at work and said he was finished with basic and would be home that weekend. He wanted to get married.
He hitchhiked back to Indiana, and was supposed to get there by Saturday evening, when they had the rehearsal dinner.
He never showed up for it.
“I thought he had dumped me,” Peggy said.
She didn’t know that there had been a hitch in his hitchhiking plans. The guy who was supposed to take him to Indianapolis decided not to, and Jerry was stuck in Terre Haute until he could find someone to take him to Indianapolis, then to Kokomo, where he had his own car there to drive to Logansport.
“I’m pretty sure I excessed a lot of speed limits from Kokomo to Logansport,” Jerry said.
He arrived long after the rehearsal dinner was over, but the couple still got married the next day, on May 13, 1951, when Peggy was 19 and Jerry was 20. They officially became “The Lands” at the Church of Brethren and it was standing room only.
After they were wed, Jerry went for about another year of training in Oklahoma, then several months more in Alabama, before he was sent to the Korean War in November 1952. He did not get back until December 1953.
It was an adjustment for the couple who were not used to living under the same roof, as well as new family responsibilities.
“When you put people together who hadn’t been together you’re in a learning stage again,” Jerry said. “We’d fight like cats and dogs sometimes, but kissing and making up is more fun. I’ve always been a lover versus a fighter.”
“We’re still madly in love,” Peggy said.
The couple managed to work out issues by accepting the other person, and overlooking the small things.
“You learn that there are three sides to everything: yours, mine, and the truth,” Peggy said.
“There are two people,” Jerry said. “You’re both individuals. You’re never going to agree 100 percent. You have to be respectful and tolerant of the other person and it will work out. You’ll be better lovers and better friends.”
The Lands have had three kids and during the 62 years they’ve been married, they’ve gotten closer
“It does not seem like we have been married for as long as we have,” Peggy said. “It’s been a joyous ride and our love has deepened over the years.”
“There’s not a better person than she is,” Jerry said about Peggy.