LIKE any member of their generation, Alice, 88 and Keith, 90 Vanstan try to brush off an accomplishment of a lifetime; 70 years married on October 20.
The platinum anniversary.
The couple who lived next door to each other, though they didn't even know it.
"We didn't know at the time," Keith said.
Alice had been off to boarding school in Geelong. It wasn't until she was home from school, a young woman at just 16-years-old when she met Keith.
"February 20, 1949 was our first date," Keith said with great confidence.
"It was my birthday."
They went to the pictures for their first date.
Alice laments they were both lonely. Keith was an only child and Alice had a younger sister.
"We were lonely children," she said.
"There weren't a lot of children around when we were younger."
Their friends had gone off to do other things away from Warracknabeal.
"As young people do, they go away to improve themselves," she said.
"We were the only ones left and we missed the fun."
Alice said she used to see the next door neighbour often up on the roof when she looked out the window
"I thought to myself, that kid is up on the roof all the time," she said.
"A peeping tom," Keith joked.
Alice said that Keith had a habit of ringing up the telephones girls to try to strike up a game of cards.
"The girls told him to talk to the new girl."
Alice happened to be the new girl at the telephone exchange.
"He asked if I wanted to go the pictures Saturday night, I said yes and he nearly died."
They courted for a year or so. Keith proposed in the backseat of the car in Warracknabeal.
"A Vauxhall AF460, a little car," Alice said, fast as a whip and with a strong voice.
"A Vauxhall, yes," Keith agreed.
A clear memory for the couple.
"It was a very big wedding," Keith said.
"In those days everyone showed up, Alice had a lot of second cousins.
"We didn't have reception in those days.
"It ended up that the tea drinkers went to Alice's place and the beer drinker's went to my house."
It was a dry wedding because the legal drinking age was still 21 in 1951, the pair also needed their parents permission to get married.
It was unusual for a couple to marry so young, even in the 1950s. People tended to get married around 24 to 25-years-old.
Alice said people were still very happy for the couple.
"We'd been a couple for quite a while," Alice said.
"Everyone knew we'd been friendly for two years," Keith said.
Keith said it was hard during the post war years.
"When we got married there was no furniture to speak of for sale," he said.
"We bought a dining set in Warracknabeal and a bed set in Horsham. And that's all there was in the two towns.
"It took about five years after the war before things became normal.
"We couldn't buy lino or carpet."
"We made do," Alice said.
Alice and Keith had their first baby, Jenny, not long after getting married, Alice couldn't wait to be a mother.
"It was what I wanted," Alice.
"We had a picture of Jenny on the wall before she was even conceived.
"I was a happy mum."
Alice joked she didn't want a big family because they wouldn't be able to cope.
"I wanted my own family," she said.
The family spent 20 years in Horsham before moving to Ballarat in 1976.
'It was a very full life in Horsham," Keith said.
The couple moved back to be near family a few years ago.
They both loved to travel, Keith actually hand built their first caravan.
"We'd spend nearly every long weekend caravanning," Keith said.
After 70 years, Alice and Keith still chuckle and look away when asked about their life together and this achievement.
A bashful modesty, they were just living their lives as best their saw fit - which was together.
They agree that they were opposite sides of the same coin.
"Chalk and cheese," Alice said.
"Keith is very, very careful with money, me and I'm not so much."
Keith said the proudest moment he had of Alice was her being a mother.
"We had a lot of joy with the kids," he said.
Alice and Keith had three children, Jenny Tim and Geoff.
'When we had our first, the whole town knew about it," Keith said.
Alice said Keith had steadied her throughout their life together.
"He keeps me focused," she said.
"He can fix anything that needs to be fixed, there have been lots of proud moments."
Alice and Keith received letters from the Queen, the Prime Minister, Governor-General, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, as well as state member Emma Kealy and federal member Anne Webster.
Alice and Keith have one piece of advice on marriage and partners, to work through the hard times.
"We come from two half circles," Alice said.
"No matter what we do, we come from two ideas.
"We work our way through it. It takes two to make the right decision."
Alice and Keith look to each other for support and love. They are proud of their family, which has grown from children to grandchildren, to great-grandchildren.
"It's special," Alice said.
"Because we came from small families."
They are still chalk and cheese.
"Its been fun," Keith said, with eyes only for Alice.
"Our time together, its all been good."
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