Phil Friedman of Mount Sinai recalls his first date with his wife, Annie -- and his future in-laws.
I had just broken up with a girlfriend in March 1967 when my twin brother's girlfriend took pity on me and offered to set me up on a blind date with her friend Annie. "Thanks, but no thanks," I said. But a couple of months later, I agreed -- just to get her and my brother off my back. I called Annie and we set up a date. Coincidentally, we lived several blocks apart in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn.
When I came to pick her up at Gabe's candy store, her parents' business on East 64th Street in Bergen Beach, Cupid's arrow hit me. She was petite and cute as a button. Annie was 17 and I was 20.
Unfortunately, her mother had just told her she was grounded for having stayed out a little too late a week earlier. So date one was sitting at the counter drinking egg creams and talking, while being watched by her parents. I spent as much time talking to her mom.
We hit it off, as our backgrounds were very similar. Her parents and mine were Holocaust survivors. Annie was born in France and I was born in Germany. Our families came to the United States in the early 1950s.
Before I left, we set a second date. Her mom, in her very Hungarian accent, told me in no uncertain terms that she had rules and regulations, including an 11 p.m. curfew. I didn't know if she was pulling my leg, but one look from her dad and I wasn't going to find out.
On date two, Annie's birthday, I borrowed my friend's car and we went to a movie and then to dinner at Cooky's Steak Pub, a medieval-themed restaurant in Valley Stream. We continued seeing each other, always following her mom's rules and regulations, whether on a date at Rockaway Beach, her Madison High School senior prom or Jahn's ice cream parlor. The more time I spent with her, the more I realized she was the one I wanted to be with forever.
Eight months later, we got engaged, and on June 21, 1969, we got married at Manhattan Beach Jewish Center. Her mom became a great friend and her dad bought me my first car. My parents loved Annie and my dad called her "Kitchie," or little kitten.
We moved to our home in Mount Sinai in 1973. We have been blessed with three wonderful sons, three caring and sweet daughters-in-law, three dynamite grandsons and one super granddaughter. In July, we celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary with a Caribbean cruise.
Annie is an aide at Mount Sinai High School and I recently retired as a vice president of marketing for QAD, a software developer.
As in every marriage, there have been many wonderful experiences and some bumps along the road, but with Annie as my partner, the bumps were never that rough and the journey has been the ride of my life.