Patricia and George Hand of East Hampton celebrated their 45th...

Patricia and George Hand of East Hampton celebrated their 45th anniversary in August. Credit: Hand Family

Patricia Hand of East Hampton, a “country girl,” recalls meeting her “city slicker” husband, George.

On June 2, 1972, the day after graduating from high school in the little town of Mitchell, South Dakota, I, Patty Kiner, boarded an airplane for the first time, bound for New York City, another first.

My sister Sherry lived in Manhattan and invited me to stay with her for the summer. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and got me a job in the Christmas catalog department.

My mom and I were not happy about the move. My dad, however, was insistent that I go and earn money for my college classes in the fall.

When I got to New York, I cried every night for weeks — the big city was not for me! I grew up on a farm and I missed my friends.

Sherry and her boyfriend decided I should meet his best friend, George Hand. We arranged a double date at the Copper Hatch on 74th Street in Manhattan.

George served in the Navy from December 1965 to October 1971 and was a sonar technician on the nuclear submarine USS Aspro. Most of his friends were married or had moved away from his Flushing, Queens, neighborhood.

Patricia and George Hand of East Hampton on their wedding...

Patricia and George Hand of East Hampton on their wedding day in August 1973. Credit: Hand Family

We hit it off immediately and spent the summer putting 12,000 miles on his new Ford Mustang, driving to Montauk, upstate New York, Canada and Pennsylvania. George’s Italian family adopted me, and I fell in love with them. I was 17, and he was 25.

In August, I went home to tell my parents I had decided to stay in New York. George wanted to ask me to stay but felt it wasn’t fair to keep me from my family. My parents were very upset.

I had described my dad and brother to George as large, intimidating country men, both U.S. Army veterans and Golden Glove boxing champs with no patience for city slickers. I also regaled him with tales of my dad taking any new boyfriend I had on a ride to the north pasture to “check the cows.” Despite that, George came out to South Dakota to meet them and bring me back to New York.

Soon after his arrival, out to the pasture they went! During the ride, they discovered they shared a love for fishing and a pride for serving their country. A mutual respect was formed and eventually an affection.

We married on Aug. 11, 1973, at the First Baptist Church in Mitchell with a priest (George is Catholic) and minister officiating. Both our families attended the ceremony.

My parents would visit us in New York, and George and my dad had many fishing trips together.

George received his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1976 from Queens College and worked at Arthur Young & Co. in Manhattan, eventually becoming a CPA. I went to Katherine Gibbs secretarial school and worked at Main La Frentz & Co., an accounting firm across the street from him.

In 1980, George found a job with an East Hampton firm and we moved there from Queens. He and his friend later began their own CPA firm, VanDyke & Hand.

He is now semiretired, fitting in time for golf and bowling. After our children were in school, I worked at East Hampton High School from 1993 until I retired in 2016 as principal clerk and assistant to the athletic director.

We are blessed to have our three kids, plus two wonderful daughters-in-law and four of the best grandchildren ever, living close by.

We have weathered countless storms, but 45 years later we are still looking forward to the future together.

With Virginia Dunleavy

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