He spent most of his growing-up years in Sioux Falls, SD. Wes was the oldest child of Norman Peterson and Ethel Schuttler Peterson. Soon a younger brother, Perry, was added to the family followed by two sisters, Karen and Normalie. Perry was only 13 months younger and they shared many coming-of-age experiences. Their first bicycle was shared as was their first car.
That car was no ordinary car. It was a 1936 Oldsmobile which the two boys painted green and then plastered the body with slogans in red and yellow lettering. On one side of the hood was painted, “opportunity, hear it knock,” the other side read “heap big smoke, no fire.” Once it actually had an electrical fire under the hood, adding authentic paint blisters to the words. A few other phrases were: “don’t laugh, lady, your daughter may be inside”; “any contributions gratefully accepted” with an arrow pointing to the gas tank; “we may be slow but we’re still ahead of you.” The car’s name was Irene, and the back of the car was painted with “Good Night, Irene” after a song popular at the time.