Neil and Eileen Mary Fenton of Jamesport found a push in the right direction led to love. Neil recalls the night they met.
At the urging of friends, I reluctantly went to a dance on Oct. 3, 1964, at the Irish American Society in Mineola. I was 23 and living in Flushing, Queens, at the time. The band leader announced a "Paul Jones" dance that involved the men and women forming separate circles facing each other and moving in opposite directions. When the music stops, you dance with the person in front of you. On the second go-round, I danced with a beautiful girl in an emerald green dress named Eileen Mary Goulding. During the next round I almost knocked over several people to get back to her.
Eileen was 18 and lived in Oyster Bay. She and her friend were there only at the insistence of her friend's father. Her parents and my father were originally from adjoining counties in Ireland and she had recently made a trip there. We danced and talked the night away. Not only was she beautiful, she also had a very caring nature. At the end of the evening, I got her phone number and we made a date for the following weekend. It did not go well.
I drove her into Manhattan to see an Italian film. Eileen hates foreign films. I didn't have change, so I had to ask her to pay for the parking meter. I then drove through Central Park, put my arm behind the passenger seat and said rather arrogantly, "If you're lucky, I might marry you!" She was not impressed.
Looking back, I'm surprised she ever spoke to me again. I continued calling her and later found out she agreed to a second date because her friend encouraged her to give me another chance.
We were married on April 1, 1967, and celebrated our 48th anniversary this year with a stay at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which is an annual tradition for us.
Eileen worked in public relations and then for the Town of Riverhead. She retired in 2005 as a judge's assistant with New York State Family Court. She works part-time running her own wedding planning business, Eileen's Elegant Events. I've worked in the counseling field for 50 years and retired in 2002 as a psychologist for Suffolk County. I work part time in a jail counseling program for alcohol and substance abusers for the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department.
We have two daughters, two great sons-in-law and one precocious and beautiful 2-year-old granddaughter. We've been back to the Irish American Society for various functions and took a photo there in October, to mark the 50th anniversary of that first dance.
Looking back, it seems like there were not any "ifs, buts or what might have beens." We are very grateful to have met each other. As they say in Ireland, we are each other's anam cara (soul friend).