I Married My High School Sweetheart—45 Years After We Met

After a decades-long delay, those early sparks reignited.

sara strawCourtesy Sara straw
Everett’s favorite photo of Sara shows her charm and style.

Back in 1946 when I was 17, my daddy bought some standing timber that he cut and trimmed, selling the remaining logs for wood. He hired a handsome young man, Everett, with a long-bed truck to haul the logs to their destination.

Because my three sisters were much older and my two brothers younger than me, I was often elected to help Daddy with projects like this. He had me drag the trimmed branches to a pile for later disposal. It didn’t take long, however, for Everett and me to notice each other.

The weather in our part of Illinois had been rainy and the gravel roads were hard to use. Everett’s truck got mired in mud, but he quickly found a way to get out on his own. Dad admired his prowess; I admired his brawn.

About that time, the local high school was planning its prom festivities, and although I badly wanted to go, I didn’t have any prospects. The prom king had been coaxing Everett to ask a girl so he could join the friend and his date. Everett was somewhat reticent because he wasn’t seeing anyone special at the time.

Everett with dogCourtesy Sara straw
Sara’s favorite photo of Everett shows his true nature and love of life on the farm.

A few nights later during dinner, a big truck drove into our yard. It was customary for the man of the house to go out and greet the person rather than have the driver come to the door, and Dad came back with a grin a mile wide on his face, announcing: “He doesn’t want to talk to me. It’s Sara he wants to see.”

I hurried outside and returned giddy with excitement. I now had an invitation to go to prom with Everett.

The next several weeks were spent finding a dress for the occasion. I had no idea what to expect but was pleased when Everett showed up with a beautiful bouquet of gardenias. Neither of us was very experienced with dancing, but we had no trouble finding things to talk about.

After the dance, we went to a local ice cream parlor, and I felt I had found Mr. Right.

We dated until I graduated from high school and went to secretarial school in Rockford, Illinois, about 30 miles away. The school arranged for me to live with a family there. I earned room and board babysitting their son. I took the bus home on weekends, and Everett brought me back on Sunday nights. Inseparable, we spent all our time together.

Soon, however, I outgrew the school and decided to quit and go to work. I had tasted city life and favored it over the hard work on the farm. The family I stayed with often suggested that I date other boys.

I knew Everett was a farmer and no doubt would plan his future around farming. I began meeting new people through work, and as both of us started dating others, our dates grew fewer and further apart. Soon I found out that Everett married a high school acquaintance of mine.

sara and everettCourtesy Sara straw
That chance meeting in November 1991 rekindled Everett and Sara’s relationship, which had begun 45 years earlier.

I moved to California with a friend and started work at a loan company. There I met a young soldier who had recently completed six years in the Army and had lived in an area of Illinois close to my home. We were married, but it didn’t take long to see my mistake.

Eventually, I relocated to Denver, Colorado, where I worked in the state Supreme Court. Everett moved to Colorado as well and became a successful mechanic, starting his own business. He served as chief of the fire department in his area, and for many years as a deputy in the sheriff’s department.

Neither of us knew we were living only 60 miles apart. Whenever I visited my family in Illinois and asked if anyone had seen or heard from Everett, I always got the same answer: No.

Then in 1991, both Everett and I visited Illinois at the same time. My mother, sister, and I had an early lunch at the only restaurant in town. It’s a small town and everyone knew my mother, who was delighted to introduce her daughters, calling us by name. I nudged her and said, “I wish you wouldn’t do that. If there’s someone in here who knows me, I’d be so embarrassed.”

Across the aisle came a voice: “Well, do you know me?”

“Should I?”

“Probably not,” came the reply.

“Who are you?” I wanted to know.

The response: “Everett.”

The world stood still. Somehow I floated across the aisle and sat down next to him, grabbing his hand.

It didn’t take us long to go over the past 45 years and renew the same sweet feelings we’d left behind. We exchanged information so we could get together once we returned to our homes in Colorado.

Now Everett is 90 and I am 88. We hope to celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary in September.

Don’t forget to read these stories of first loves that will touch your heart.

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Originally Published in Reminisce Extra