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In the fall of 1970, I was a beginning home economics teacher at West Hardin High School. It wasn’t until the fall of 1971 that I seriously started thinking about marriage. This shy young man from Lebanon Junction didn’t have an earthly idea I had my eye on him.
His college friend and fellow math teacher wanted to start a wrestling program and convinced this gentleman to assist him in what, at the time, was a non-paying job. He also convinced me to take on the non-paying job of sponsoring the girls who would support the wrestling team.
It was those circumstances and fate that we would make long trips to schools in Union, Trigg and Henderson counties for wrestling competitions and there would only be one seat left on the bus after all the students boarded. You see, the students made sure all the seats were filled with equipment and duffle bags and that one lone bench seat near the front was left.
At the December 1971 wedding of one of the wrestlers, our friend, the wrestling coach, invited us to his family’s home for a New Year’s Eve party. The poor co-worker had no idea I knew where they lived, but when I played dumb, he spoke up and said, “I could take you.” It was our first date. I didn’t know the party included the men playing poker and the women watching TV. That didn’t help us get to know each other any better.
After wrestling season and the school year was complete, the shy and reserved man only was around occasionally. I invited him to my sister’s wedding in July. After working all night on a summer job at a Chevron station, he showed up dead tired and I knew he was there because I wanted him by my side.
The school year began and in the fall wrestling season began once again and we got to travel together on that lone seat on the team bus. Our friendship strengthened and we fell in love. After the Christmas holiday, we actually started talking about getting married in the summer.
On Easter Eve in 1973, and after dinner with his parents in “LJ,” we left for Easter Vigil Mass at St. James Catholic Church. He pulled off the road mid-way up Colesburg Hill. He told me the Easter Bunny had left an early gift for me. You guessed it, a beautiful diamond ring, and he asked me right there to marry him. “Yes” was my answer and we were married July 21, 1973. It was so neat that many of our students were a part of our wedding ceremony.
Now 40 years later, my husband, Michael Sweat, still is a little reserved, but just the best husband and dear, dear friend. We have been through many tough times including a miscarriage, years of waiting for our special baby and the loss of both our parents. And we’ve shared many wonderful events. Those include our son’s graduation from Western Kentucky University, the many wonderful family vacations especially when the CH Belles and Beaux performed at Epcot Center at Disney World under the direction of our dear friend Andrew Zagar.
Michael has taken such good care of me while I faced two back surgeries, a broken back and the everyday struggles of living with degenerative disc disease. Our yard and grounds are stunning despite the road work in front of our house. His gardens always are plentiful with produce and he is a great help in the kitchen while preserving it all and making family meals.
Today, in honor of our 40 years together on Sunday, I want to wish my husband Michael a very happy 40th anniversary and to thank friends Jim and Karen Davis for making sure the assistant wrestling coach and mat maid sponsor stayed together for a very long time. I dedicate this column to a very good cook and my best friend, who just makes his wife look good, while he is her support in the shadow. I love you, Michael.
Enjoy his recipes for Peanut Butter Fudge and Fried Apple Pies.
Michael’s Peanut Butter Fudge
2 cups sugar
¾ cup milk
¾ cup creamy peanut butter (crunchy is also good!)
2 teaspoon vanilla
Boil sugar and milk until it reaches soft ball stage on candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Beat with wooden spoon until it starts to lose its gloss. Pour into a buttered 9-inch square or comparable pan. Cut into squares when cool.
Michael’s Fried Apple Pies
3 packages dried apples
1 box of refrigerated pie crust
Sugar and cinnamon to taste
Cook apples with water until the consistency of chunky apple sauce. Let cool. Roll pie crust out and cut circles using a small saucer. Place a small amount of apple filling on half of the circle. Fold the other half over the top of the filling. Using a fork dipped in flour, close the rounded edge by pressing the fork along the edges. Remove carefully onto a greased cookie sheet with sides. Fry in skillet with vegetable oil or bake in oven with fat on a cookie sheet with sides. Once they are golden brown, drain on paper towels. Serve while warm with ice cream.
Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of HardinCounty and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.