Sweet Potato


041913_beshertJudy and Bob Schwartzberg

First Date: September 1962, lacrosse game

Wedding Date: March 7, 1963

Wedding Venue: Blue Crest Fordleigh, Baltimore

Current Residence: Annapolis

Favorite Activity: Working together at The Big Cheese

Over Thanksgiving 1962, Judy Smelkinson joined Bob Schwartzberg to visit friends in Massachusetts.

They sat among 20 others, and Judy was served a large baked potato. She looked down uncomfortably and told Bob it was too big for her to eat. She put the potato on his plate.

Bob smiled and passed the potato to the next diner. That person did the same and the potato rounded the table, returning to Judy’s plate.

Realizing no other option, Judy put her fork in the potato. She hit a large lump and felt even more uneasy as she thought it had a disease, which she had learned about in botany class. Judy poked at the hunk with her fork and finally pulled it out of the potato.

It was a folded piece of waxed paper and inside was a diamond ring. She looked at Bob, who smiled, and the rest of the group broke out in applause.

When the couple returned to Judy’s Northwest Baltimore home, Mildred and Ralph Smelkinson had opened their home to Margaret and Charles Schwartzberg of Annapolis, as well as friends and family, in celebration.

It wasn’t the first proposal. On their first date two months earlier, Judy had watched Bob’s box-lacrosse game and waited at his apartment while he showered and changed. As it began to rain heavily, he suggested they wait and made two gin and tonics.

Julie London serenaded them, and a romantic Bob suggested they marry.

“It was just a feeling I had,” says Bob, now 76, noting her beauty and the way her “eyes shined and sparkled.”

Judy said yes that day, too.

“He was adorable and such a gentleman, so sweet, so tender,” says Judy, now 71. “He’s still the same way.”

They met initially at the University of Maryland and bumped into each other at a Baltimore Colts game, years later. After searching the phone book for her number, Bob called and they had their first date and first proposal.

Following a procession under lacrosse sticks, they married on March 7, 1963 at Bluecrest Fordleigh in Baltimore with Rabbi Morris Rosenblatt officiating.

They’ve counted their blessings since, including Randi Sue, born in 1965, and Ricky, born in 1969. They’ve also been blessed with four grandchildren.

The Schwartzbergs are especially thankful for the last 20 years, during which they have run The Big Cheese, a gourmet takeout in Annapolis, near where they reside.

After a celebration with family marking their 50th anniversary, during which they renewed their vows, they revel in spending each day and night together.

“We fight over what we can do for each other,” says Bob.

And after 50 years of marriage, each time they leave the store or take a stroll, they still hold hands.

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings Mills-based freelance writer. For “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.


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