CALLAHAN - Staying married is easy, says 100-year-old Horace Ricks.
Pressed for advice, the veteran of eight decades of marriage said: "Well, you just stay quiet."
His 99-year-old blushing bride, Beatrice, said the key is commitment.
The pair from Callahan, Florida, celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary last month and was recognized Feb. 11 as the nation's longest married couple, based on some 200 submissions to the Worldwide Marriage Encounter ministry.
The couple's love story began nearly a century ago.
"There was an ice cream party at a man’s house, and we met at that party," said Ricks.
Horace, or Alan as his wife calls him, was just 19, his bride, 17. They met in Mississippi and were married soon after on Christmas Day 1935.
"We were farmers. We farmed cotton. We picked our own crops," said Beatrice.
They moved to Florida in 1946, and he was a union construction worker for 32 years.
"I worked all that time dreaming to have me a pasture and a good house in the future," said Horace.
He built the house they live in, next door to his son Boyd and daughter in law Sandra. Their daughter Gail lives in Maryland with her family. Overall, there are 5 generations. 8 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, and even 6 great-great grandkids. Sandra says family has always been very important to them all.
"We took care of Alan's parents," said Beatrice.
Horace just turned 100, and Beatrice will be 99 in May. A lot of things have changed in the past century.
"Cars is the biggest thing. There were no cars when I was born," said Horace.
But a lot of things have stayed the same, like what Horace eats for lunch every day.
"We got a creamy potato soup that I really love. I eat it a lot and fried shrimp. I eat that a lot," said Horace.
With garlic salt and a half a glass of Mountain Dew.
And the secret to staying married for 81 years...?
Beatrice says commitment.
"Well, You just stay quiet," said Horace.
About 20 years ago, Horace had colon cancer and beat it. Other than that, the pair has been relatively healthy.
Sandra says that if either is in the hospital for any amount of time, the first thing they do when they’re reunited is give each other a big kiss.