Love Stories: A love that goes the distance

This month: Ken and Beverly Swanson

Residence: Moss Creek

Married: June 21, 1952, in Iron Mountain, Mich.

How they met

Ken: We met on the beach of Lake Michigan in '51. I was down there looking for a girl. If there's ever been love at first sight, that was it. I just walked up to her blanket and laid down. I said, "How's the water?" Oldest line in the book. I asked if she minded if I sat. Turns out, she was there looking for a guy.

Beverly: I thought he was nice. I had met a couple guys that day. One had a Lincoln convertible. Ken had a '36 Plymouth. The guy with the Lincoln caught my attention. But Ken caught my heart.

First impressions

Ken: She was cute. She was smart. She was going to be a nurse. I was at Northwestern. I never went out with another girl. She never went out with another guy.

Beverly: He knew he loved me from the start. I have to say, though, it took me a few dates. But I knew he was the right guy shortly after that. I knew I had him.

The proposal

Ken: We only dated for about a year before we got married.

Beverly: We went to pick out a ring. He wanted to get something splashy. I just wanted something nice and small. That, and he couldn't afford anything more (laughs).

Ken: I put her in the car, and as I walked around she thought, "What have I done?" (laughs).

The wedding

Ken: It was one of the few weddings in Iron Mountain, Mich., up in the Upper Peninsula, where she was from.

Beverly: We had a lot of friends attend, family.

Ken: My best man and I came up early for the wedding and got a hotel room. Day of, I'm shaving, getting ready for the wedding. I hear from the other room, "Ken! I forgot my pants." My best man forgot his pants. My dad ended up as my best man. George was out looking for damned pants, which was next to impossible in Iron Mountain, Mich. He ended up rushing in mid-ceremony.

Life together

Beverly: I probably got one paycheck as a nurse. I had our son and then I went to work for my husband.

Ken: I started working with Standard Oil Company. I sold fuel oil with them for years and then they offered me an agency. We worked there for 22 years. She was an office manager. Her biggest job was that she collected the money. I could sell. Later on, we got an opportunity to buy the business along with three others.

We got up in the morning, ate at home. My office was in walking distance to the house. She worked out of the house. So I came home for lunch, and was home in time for dinner. Even after we retired. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner together for 56 years.

Beverly: We always closed up shop at 5 p.m., had a drink. Left business at work.

We truly worked well together. We really didn't get on each other's nerves. Although I did get mad at him for delivering to people who I told him not to because they hadn't paid yet.

Ken: Luckily, she was a good listener. I'm a good talker. We'd sit and talk or argue politics. When I got too noisy she'd tap my leg, "OK, you've talked too much."

Life apart

Ken: She smoked when I first met her. She was on oxygen here for a few years. Circulation in her legs stopped. They had to give up the legs.

We had nursing here. But this isn't a one-story house. It's just too hard to get around. My daughter lives in Atlanta, and we found a good (assisted living) place up there. We tried a place around here, but it wasn't a good fit. They had waiting lists at so many of the other places here.

I stay down here. I can't sell the house for what it's worth. So I visit. I go up there about every other weekend.

The time they have

Ken: It's sad here by myself. Very lonely. I walk around the bed to my side of the bed. I can't sleep on her side.

Beverly: Luckily, my daughter, Kendra, comes every day. It's terrible with him not here. He feels the same way.

Ken: We talk four times a day on the phone.

Beverly: I couldn't live here without the phone. I couldn't live here without him coming. We do the best we can.

Ken: I've always said once you've found the right person you'll know it. You won't feel like you've settled. It will feel right. After all these years, it still feels right to me.