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Valentine Season


This time of year, makes me think back to the good old days, when Fran and I were just married. We were young and dumb, with stars in our eyes, blinded by our newly found adulthood. I was 19 and she was 17. I worked at International Harvester for three months, from the fall of 1963 until late winter of 1964. Foundry work was the hardest, hottest and dirtiest work I have ever done, before, or since. As soon as General Electric called me, I quit and worked for them on their assembly line for the next three years. There I met Curt Hurl.

Curt was a night student at Bellarmine and I was a night student at U of L. We became friends. Curt was dating a little blond girl, and we had been married less than eight months. Curt belonged to the Bellarmine Sportsman Club, a sort of “Animal House” fraternity, at least back then. He got tickets, and the four of us went to the fairgrounds for a dance. A local rock group recently gone national, Cosmo and the Counts, were there to release their new record, “Soft and Pretty,” in May. Curt and his girl, I don’t remember her name, picked us up and we went to the Fairgrounds, to hear Cosmo sing, and dance to his songs. I don’t remember much about that night, except for crawling across the dance floor trying to find one of Fran’s shoes. Someone had kicked her shoes off onto the floor. We went to our apartment, and crashed, as Curt was too sleepy, his girl said, to drive home to Shelbyville, where they lived. The next morning, still wearing the same clothes, Curt and I were awakened to the girls laughing and talking in the kitchen. There we found them bright eyed and having a grand time, while by contrast Curt and I, were dragging. The girls had made a special breakfast of pancakes, but not just any pancakes, or just any meal. This was the first time a meal was prepared in our home for more than just me and Fran.

Neither Curt nor I wanted breakfast. In fact, the very thought of eating something was repugnant to us. We were more than a little tired, and Curt complained of a headache and appeared to have road maps for eyes. However, we both agreed that we would have some pancakes and coffee because they had worked so hard. We sat down at the table, seated boy girl, boy, girl, and one of the ladies poured coffee, which was welcomed. Fran, I believe, went to the frying pan and flipped over a pancake, but I noticed for some reason, she used two hands. Anyway, when it was done, it was added to a warming stack of six or eight of the biggest pancakes I ever saw. They were regular size in diameter, but an inch or more thick. These “were” special pancakes.

Curt and I each had a big old pancake on our plate, and were told to cut into it at the same time. Curt looked at me and I across at him, and as if communicating telepathically, we plunged our fork and knife into the center of our pancakes at exactly the same moment, coinciding with girls, yelling surprise, just as a mass of batter burst forth from our apparently well-done pancakes. It was kind of like lancing a boil on your breakfast plate. I remember Curt looking up at his girl pitifully, asking, “Is this your way of getting back at me?” I said nothing, it was my only defense. I was in shock, trying to figure out what happened, and more importantly, whether or not I should be worried about myself. There was however, an explanation.

The girls wanted to fix their men a special breakfast, and thoughtfully made a plan while we slept. They arose early, freshened up, cored and peeled four or five apples, cutting them into slices and mixing them into the batter, made from scratch. Being new cooks, and unaware that the apples needed to be precooked, the batter, due to its thickness remained batter. I thought this happened on Valentine Day, but Fran reminded me it was a Derby Eve dance. Regardless, Happy Valentine Day everyone.