DERRY — On May 31, 1952, Vincent Ferdinando found his soulmate.
That first meeting at a Canadian restaurant introduced him to a young waitress, Miriam, who ended up becoming his wife.
"He looked pretty good," Miriam, 82, recalled. "And I grew up on a farm and knew how to milk cows by hand."
Knowing her way around a farm would prove very helpful.
The couple married and became the force behind J&F Farms in Derry, raising six children together and helping oversee the fields that produce strawberries, corn, and various other fruits and vegetables.
The Ferdinandos are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary May 31. They reflected on their history and family connections one recent afternoon at their Old Auburn Road farmhouse.
"He's put up with me," Miriam said. "We just have lived a simple life, have gone to church together."
Vincent's parents, Minnie Jones and Louis Ferdinando, began their Derry farm in 1906, naming it after their own initials — J&F.
The farm was typical of the day, one of many in the area that helped keep money in a small-town farmer's pocket and helped provide for a family in rural Southern New Hampshire.
Vincent, 87, grew up an only child and learned the ins and outs of the family farming operation, what needed to be done to keep a profitable farm going.
It was a small operation at first.
"We had a couple of cows and a flock of chickens," he recalled. "Before I'd go to school in the morning, I'd do some milking."
The farm then moved into selling hatching chickens and "boilers."
Years passed and the business added a hay and straw business, still a successful venture for the family.
The foray into hay kept Vincent on the road a lot, taking him to Canada and back for hay and making sales calls all over New England.