Bernice and Jack Simpson of Lake Grove can thank a butcher for a happy match. Bernice explains:
It was in Tom's Butcher Shop in Sunnyside, Queens, in 1953 that I met my handsome Jack Simpson. I was picking up an order for my mother when Tom said, "Bernice, I want you to meet someone." He then called the Wetter's deli next door and ordered coffee. Jack was the deli's delivery boy, and when he walked in the door, I fell in love.
Tom said to Jack, "I want you to meet this young lady. I think you two would make a really cute couple." My family knew Tom for years, but if my mom had known he was fixing me up with someone, she would not have been happy. I was 13 and Jack was 14, and we were both embarrassed.
After that day, I would go looking for Jack - he lived near the butcher, about six blocks from my house - but it wasn't until the next year, when I began high school at St. Michael Academy in Manhattan, that we started seeing each other on the subway and saying "hi." He went to Power Memorial Academy in the city and was even more handsome in his school jacket and tie.
Soon Jack and I were taking the same train into the city. We would wait for each other on the corner of 41st Street to walk together to the Lowery Street station.
We would also see each other at neighborhood parties and at George and Bertha's candy store, our local hangout. For our first date Jack asked me to his sophomore dance - and then to all of his school dances, and I asked him to mine. My parents liked Jack very much, but they wouldn't let me go steady. So when they would ask about him, I would say he was just a casual boyfriend. We couldn't have been happier - high school sweethearts.
On April 23, 1960, we were married at St. Raphael's Church in Long Island City. Our reception was at the Queens Terrace. Our honeymoon was spent on Water Island in the Virgin Islands - we were in paradise, as neither of us had ever even been on an airplane. It was a truly wonderful time.
Jack and I are still very fond of our old neighborhood and go back to visit friends or just walk around. I still think of Tom the butcher, our matchmaker, and always keep him in my prayers.
We had eight children, one now deceased. Today our family includes three sons-in-law and three daughters-in-law and 13 precious grandchildren. We plan to celebrate our 50th anniversary by renewing our vows at St. James Church in Setauket followed by a reception with family and friends at the Old Field Club.
Jack and I both retired from Metropolitan Life in Manhattan. We are enjoying our life together.