Annette McMahon of Bethpage recalls the fancy skating moves her husband, Bernie, performed to get her attention the night they met.
I was 25 and living in Ozone Park, Queens, in l949. The acceptable place for members of the opposite sex to commingle was the local roller-skating rink, and Queens abounded with them.
One evening, my friends and I were at the Queens Roller Rink on Horace Harding Boulevard in Elmhurst. I remember blissfully gliding along to a Glenn Miller tune when an engaging young fellow in a yellow bow tie skated backward in front of me. He performed several other fancy moves for me and we started skating together. His name was Bernie, he was 23 and he grew up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. At evening's end, he accompanied a group of us to a nearby Howard Johnson's for something to eat.
Bernie told me he was attending Columbia University under the GI Bill and lived on campus. He had joined the Navy in 1944 when he was 17, after signing his mother's name to a statement declaring he was a year older so he could meet the age requirement. He was stationed in Japan at the end of World War II, and while there he became fluent in Japanese. When he finished his service in 1946, Bernie joined the Army and went back to Japan for another year as a translator.
When we were leaving, he asked for a lift to the subway. At the entrance he said to me, "I think I'm going to marry you!" As far as I was concerned, that put him in the "nut" category.
Over the next several months, Bernie and I would run into each other at various roller rinks. The more I got to know him, the more I was impressed by his extraordinary intelligence. We eventually exchanged telephone numbers and started dating.
Two years later, on Feb. 22, 1951, we tied the knot at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Ozone Park. We have four sons and one daughter, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Our youngest son, who has Down syndrome, lives with us and has proved to be a cheerful blessing these many years.
My husband started his own publishing business, Columbia Financial Printing Corp., in Farmingdale. I was the company secretary. We retired in 2009 and two of our sons took over the business. Bernie, an artist and author, has created many pieces of mandala art, geometric designs connected within a circle, and has written several books about it. I discovered I could write poetry and published a book of poems. We are members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, where Bernie served as head of the art committee. I head the women's discussion group.
This year we celebrated our 63rd wedding anniversary. Age has taken its toll on Bernie's mind and body, but each bedtime we declare our love and the "luck" we still share together.