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Love Story: Henrietta and Al Roberts of Shelter Island

Al and Henrietta Roberts of Shelter Island met

Al and Henrietta Roberts of Shelter Island met at her best friend's Sweet 16 party, married in 1952 and celebrated their 66th anniversary this month. Photo Credit: Roberts family

Henrietta Roberts of Shelter Island recalls how a good friend introduced her to future husband Al.

After graduating from a public elementary school, I went to Cathedral High School, an all girls’ Catholic school in Manhattan. It was there that I met my friend Cornelia in the fall of 1945.

We were required to wear stockings as part of our uniform. At that time, all stockings had a seam down the back. Cornelia would draw a line on the back of both her bare legs so the nuns would think they were properly covered. I liked that idea and we became good friends. We were both 14.

Cornelia lived in Yorkville in Manhattan and I lived in midtown. Every Monday morning at school, we’d talk about our weekend. She would tell me about going to the movies with her boyfriend, Al. I would tell her about my boyfriend, Eddie, taking me to the ice cream parlor for a banana split. We were both fibbing of course. They were just boys we knew in our neighborhoods.

In junior year, Cornelia invited me to her Sweet 16 birthday party and joked that I would finally meet her “boyfriend.” I clearly remember walking into her apartment and straight into a very nice-looking boy. He looked at me, I looked at him and that was it. I said I was Cornelia’s friend, Henrietta Mazzuchi. He introduced himself as Al Roberts. This was the boy Cornelia pretended to be dating! Al and I danced and talked all evening. He was 16 and went to Haaren High School, an all boys’ school in Manhattan.

Since I was not allowed to date, I would “visit” Cornelia but meet Al instead. We’d go for walks in Central Park on our own. A few months later, my parents gave me permission to go on our first date to the movies.

Four years later, in 1951, Al was drafted into the Army. He was being assigned to Europe, so we planned our wedding. We married on April 19, 1952, at Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Manhattan. Cornelia was in our bridal party. We had a three-day honeymoon before Al was sent overseas.

We didn’t see each other again for two years. Al served as a medic with the 57th Field Hospital in Toul, France. I worked part time and took classes at night. It was a sad and lonely time for us.

Al returned home in 1953, finished his military service and took computer programming courses. He was hired by General Motors to work in the computer division. I was then director of personnel at a printing company in Manhattan. At one point, Al’s job was transferred to Michigan and we lived there for eight years.

In 1988, we moved from Manhattan to Shelter Island. Al retired from General Motors that year. He continued working as a systems analyst for another company until 2013. He still works from home occasionally at the age of 83! I worked for the Town of Shelter Island from 1990 to 2016, helping to create the town’s Senior Center along with its activities and programs.

We have two daughters, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Our son died of brain cancer three years ago.

This month, we celebrated our 66th anniversary with our family. Every year at this time, we would send our dearest friend Cornelia a card of “thanks” for introducing us. Sadly, she passed away this year.

— With Virginia Dunleavy


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