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An Eddie Bracken fan in war and peace

Eddie Bracken and his wife, Connie, rehearse lines

Eddie Bracken and his wife, Connie, rehearse lines for “These Golden Years,” performed at Hofstra University in 1996. (The Brackens both died in 2002.) Photo Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

In the summer of 1996, when we read that Eddie Bracken was directing and starring in the Off-Broadway hit "These Golden Years" at the Monroe Theater on the Hofstra University campus in Hempstead, we purchased tickets for the Sunday afternoon performance.

He and his wife, Connie, were starring as a couple of "swinging seniors" living "in sin" in a cottage in Florida. His daughter also was in this production.

My husband, Bernie, was looking forward to seeing Eddie Bracken, since the last time he saw him in person was during World War II on Guam, in between bombing missions over Japan, more than 50 years earlier.

Eddie Bracken came with Peggy Ryan and they put on a wonderful show for the servicemen. He hung out only with the enlisted men (rather than with the officers) before and after the show and was a great morale booster. He was a topic of conversation for many days afterward.

As Bernie and I were preparing to leave for the Hofstra show, I suggested that perhaps he would like to write a note to Bracken to thank him for that morale boost those many years ago.

He thought it too presumptuous and did not want to write anything. After suggesting this in a couple of different ways, I finally gave up. As we were getting into our car to drive to Hofstra, I gave it one more try and to my surprise my husband got out of the car -- grumbling -- and went back into our home.

He came back into the car a few minutes later with a 3-by-5-inch card with some writing on it, and he announced that had written a few sentences to Eddie Bracken.

When we were walking from the parking lot to the entrance of the theater, we saw a couple of theater staff members at the stage door. My husband walked over to them and asked if they would pass his card to Bracken. They said they would be happy to do that. We then found our seats and spent the next two enjoyable hours watching the show.

After the show was over and the applause ended, Bracken came out on stage to talk to the audience. He told us about the movies he was in and the Broadway shows he was in, and then he talked about his wartime visits to the U.S. military bases in the Pacific.

And then to our utter surprise, he said, "As a matter of fact, one of the men stationed on Guam is here tonight. His name is Bernie Greene, and he will be coming backstage to reminisce with me."

My husband was thrilled, and we did go backstage, met his charming wife and beautiful daughter. My husband had a lovely talk with Bracken about his visit to Guam. He asked if my husband had any photos of his visit, which Bernie planned to send him to his home in New Jersey.

They both had a wonderful time going down memory lane a half century later.

Bernice Greene,

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