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Love Story: Manhattan 'mixer' launches a lifelong romance

Christine and Patrick O'Hagan celebrated their 46th anniversary on a trip to Alaska with close friends celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Patrick and Christine O'Hagan of Holtsville celebrated their

Patrick and Christine O'Hagan of Holtsville celebrated their 48th anniversary in June of this year. Photo Credit: O’Hagan Family

Christine O’Hagan of Holtsville recalls her courtship with her husband, Patrick.

I met my husband, Patrick, on Oct. 14, 1966, at a Manhattan College dance, or “mixer,” as it was called. The all-male school was in Riverdale in the Bronx. Patrick lived in the Bronx. I lived in Jackson Heights, Queens. My name was Christine Kehl then. It was a long subway ride to Riverdale, but my friend Kathleen came with me. We’d heard that Manhattan was full of cute guys.

Patrick was 19, a Manhattan College sophomore, an electrical engineering major. I was 16, in my senior year at Cathedral High School in Manhattan. Patrick says he was about to leave when he spotted me. All I know is that our eyes met across a crowded dance floor. It was either love at first sight — or that we were the tallest people in the room.

After we danced, he asked for my number. When he called and asked if I were home, my 9-year-old brother said “no” and hung up.

But Patrick persisted, and our first and second dates were at the movies. For our third date, he invited me to the Manhattan College Engineers’ Ball at the midtown Commodore Hotel. It was a rainy night and my newly dyed heels, which I dyed myself, streaked his suit pants with silver dye.

We spent our rather penniless courtship either at the movies or walking the streets of New York. Occasionally, we splurged on a $1.99 steak dinner at Tad’s Steaks in Times Square. In 1967, we went to my senior prom. After graduating, I worked as an operator at the New York Telephone Co. in Manhattan.

Patrick graduated in 1969 and on June 20, 1970, we were married at St. Joan of Arc Church in Jackson Heights. We honeymooned on Cape Cod, where, somewhere in the surf, Patrick lost the Manhattan class ring I’d given him as an engagement gift.

Last summer, a metal detector hobbyist on Cape Cod called and told us he’d found the ring semi-buried in the ocean floor near the spot where it was lost 47 years before. The story was covered in Newsday and nationally. We even appeared on NBC News.

In 1979, we moved from Queens to Holtsville into our “starter” house. Thirty-nine years later, we’re still here.

Patrick worked at Lambda Electronics in Melville from 1975 to 1993. He then worked for the Long Island Rail Road and retired in 2014 as director of quality in project management. I’m a writer, the author of two books and numerous essays and newspaper articles.

We’ve been through some rough times, most especially the death of our younger son, but we’ve seen each other through and prevailed. Our older son and our daughter-in-law have given us three wonderful grandchildren.

We’ve been on several cruises, toured Ireland and visited several American historical sites. In 2016, we celebrated our 46th anniversary on a trip to Alaska with close friends celebrating their 50th anniversary.

We were very young when we met and, in some respects, we’ve been each other’s best teacher. Patrick is a loyal and loving husband, and he still laughs at all my stories — no matter how many times he’s heard them.

These days, he is our youngest grandson’s No. 1 babysitter, and I continue to write.

After the Cape Cod honeymoon, the recovered ring and all these years on Long Island — we’ve got a strong marriage, a deep anchor.

— With Virginia Dunleavy


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