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CAPTIVATION IN CHICAGO

by Dave Friant


Some might view it as having the elements of a Hallmark channel flick. Two born and bred North Midwesterners initiating efforts in the Windy City to take a stab at the American Dream. Both residing at the same address and knowing of one another casually as neighbors. Jeanice Swanson (NOT of the frozen food empire) occupying an apartment within the property’s larger house and Larry Ger-lik-ov-ski (yes, I too butchered the enunciation) living in a smaller dwelling behind the main structure.

Scene set. Characters established.

On a mid-June 1965 evening in a Sadie Hawkins-like manner, Ms. Swanson knocked on Mr. G’s door and asked him to attend a lawn party. His “yes” response resulted in what both subsequently consider to be their unofficial first date. Both were gainfully employed with Mr. G nearly through his second decade of life at 28 years of age and Ms. Swanson just past the halfway point at 26. The gathering served as the origin of a full-fledged love connection. Quickly checked by both were the necessary boxes associated with a desire for permanency. After an accelerated period of dating, the two were engaged to be married 3 months after the never-to-be-forgotten outdoor assembly of partygoers. The “I do’s” were exchanged a few months later in April 1966. The pledged allegiance to one another through thick and thin became a reality.

Their 58 years of wedded bliss together has been primarily in the Lone Star State. Mr. G transferred to Texas with Royal Globe Insurance in 1969. They have occupied the same home in Bedford for 53 years. The pair have two children, three grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Exercises of fun and time together with family continue to be a major part of their lives.

No worse for the wear, Mrs. G is halfway through her 8th decade of life. She originally hails from Federal Dam, Minnesota. The state is known for Vikings football, Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, ice fishing, and regional dialect expressions such as “aw geez” and “dontcha know.”

Employment opportunities took her to Chicago where she was employed on separate occasions for two airlines. As a resident of the Howdy state, Mrs. G worked full time for 22 years within the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District before retiring in 2002. Time to tap the brakes and relax as an oldster? Hardly. She fully understands the devastating impacts of settling down as it relates to physical and mental well-being. Part-time employments with the HEB ISD Athletic Department and two retail stores have continued to be a part of her life since pulling the plug on the 40-hour work week. Additionally, trying to avoid 10-pin misses in senior league bowling occupies a portion of her week. She took up the game when the kids were still in diapers. Cloth types back in the day when safety pin mishaps resulted in stuck fingers or screams from poked kiddos.

The male portion of this dynamic pair is 87 years of age, within shouting distance of becoming a nonagenarian. He was born 6 miles north of Green Bay, Wisconsin and has been an avid cheesehead Packer fan for as long as he can remember. Their Bedford home is adorned with a variety of cherished green and gold NFL team items. His maternal grandfather had season tickets at the renowned Lambeau Field. Mr. G can recall occasions when he and other very young family members would be snuck into the complex thru a turnstile operated by his uncle. Mr. G had season tickets to Packer games for 10 years until his move to Texas. Family members still enjoy the luxury of bundling up to watch the combatants compete on the often times frozen tundra.

After his work with the railroad, he switched tracks and worked in the insurance business for 30 years before retiring in 1999. Mr. G continues as we speak to work part-time for the HEB ISD Athletic Department and for the same retail store as Mrs. G.

He was given a gift certificate 30+ years ago for a stained-glass glazier novice class. He took the class and has established a passion for this skilled craft. Behind their home is a work building (heated and cooled) that houses some of the specialty tools and semi-finished works. Primarily by word-of-mouth satisfied customers, Mr. G is kept busy creating a range of artistic compositions and providing them to family, friends, churches, and an array of different purchasers.

Mr. and Mrs. G, along with family members on occasion, load up the vehicle once or twice yearly and head north on I-35 to the home of Mrs. G’s brother. He lives within a few hundred yards of Ten Mile Lake on the Land of 10,000 Lakes. On many occasions over the years (the last being in February 2024), Mr. G has gone ice fishing on the typically 6- inch thick frozen lake and pulled in primarily walleyes and crappies. Fisherman haul their wheeled ice houses onto lakes with the assistance of snowmobiles. The comradery is infectious amongst the participants.

When asked about the secret sauce associated with their lengthy marriage, Mr. G noted, “We are concerned about the welfare of each other. We disagree from time to time like all couples, but not that often.” Mrs. G adds, “It’s a ‘we’ as opposed to an ‘I’ that makes for a good marriage.”

Mrs. G suggests that an increasing percentage of young couples these days are “too self-centered and intent on instant gratification.” She mentions the importance of cultivating friendships constituted from a variety of ages as a key to overall health and well-being. The two have developed on-going relationships with younger folks and religious affiliation friends over the years. “We establish and maintain in-person and phone contact with them,” says Mrs. G.

Lots of individuals coming through his stained glass shop have developed continuing relationships with Mr. G and his spouse. Even with decades of differences in age between the two and some of their developed friends, heathy bonds are often established.

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