Arthur Sheer of Merrick recalls the day he met Virginia, his wife of 70 years.

 

I first met my future bride, Virginia, on a summer evening in 1939. We were at a beach get-together with mutual friends in her neighborhood of Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. I was from Washington Heights in Manhattan.

She was 16 and I was 18. We spent some time talking, and although it would be two years before I would see her again, she left a lasting impression on me.

The next time we met was completely serendipitous, but I knew her the very moment I saw her, and she remembered me, too. Virginia was working as an assistant sales girl at Century Sportswear in Manhattan. I was a clothing buyer for Sonnenfeld. We were both taken by surprise, and after shocked exclamations of "What are you doing here!" I knew that I could not miss another opportunity.

We had our first date over lunch at a Chinese restaurant on 34th Street. Our courtship commenced in earnest, and we enjoyed shows put on by the great bandleaders such as Benny Goodman and Guy Lombardo. We'd also stroll across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan to Fort Lee, N.J., to go dancing at the Riviera nightclub.

I was drafted into the Army in January 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor. We wanted to marry before I started Officer Candidate School with the rest of the "90-day wonders." We wed on May 29, 1942, in the beautiful rooftop garden of the Hotel St. Moritz on Central Park South, and then enjoyed our honeymoon at the Windsor Hotel in the old Borscht Belt in the Catskills.

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Virginia joined me at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for a month until I deployed to Europe. While I was away she went back to live with her parents.

During the war it was incredibly difficult for us to live apart. The end of the struggle could not come soon enough, and I and my fellow returning troops braved one last trial in 1945 -- we encountered a hurricane on the trans-Atlantic journey home from Le Havre, France, to the port of Richmond in Staten Island, a harrowing voyage.

Crowds and crowds of people awaited our arrival, but despite the multitudes, I instantly spotted Virginia from the deck. We were indescribably thrilled, at long last, to begin our married life together.

The promise of the future was limitless as we made our first home in Far Rockaway and planned to begin a family. A few years later, we bought our first and current residence in Merrick, which we have been proud to call home for 59 years. We both retired in 1982; Virginia worked in sales at Alexander's department store, and I was head salesman at Sills and Co., a clothing manufacturer.

Virginia and I have been blessed and thankful for our three children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We could not be happier to celebrate our lifetime of memories together. This year we celebrated our 70th wedding anniversary with our family at Villa Roma in the Catskills.