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Love Story: Clifford and Alice Cohen

Clifford Cohen of East Meadow recalls how his first date with wife, Alice, was the result of a coin toss.

During World War II, I served in the Navy from 1943 until 1946 as an electrician's mate on the aircraft carriers USS Shangri-La and USS Hancock in the Pacific theater. After the war I came home to the Bronx and worked in my family's toy and stationery business.

One day in 1947, my friend Jerry and I were strolling down Tremont Avenue in the East Bronx. As we passed by the House of Mylamar, a perfume and cosmetics store, we focused on a beautiful sales girl, Alice.

When it came to females, I was considered uneasy and timid. Jerry, however, had the magic touch.

There were no customers in the store. We entered and pretended we were looking for an expensive perfume. With Jerry leading the way, within 10 minutes the three of us appeared to know each other for years.

Eventually, Alice confirmed a double date for Saturday evening. She would bring a friend.

A preposterous situation now existed: We both wanted Alice as our date. A coin was tossed - and I won. After that first date Jerry and I agreed to ask Alice out on alternate Saturday nights. Ultimately, I won: Jerry moved out of state.

I'm a jazz addict, and I would take Alice to the Apollo Theater and to the many jazz clubs that were along 52nd Street in Manhattan. We saw some of the great performers, including Billie Holiday. I was 21. Alice, 18, was still in high school, and we went to her senior prom together.

On March, 13, 1948, we were married. We stayed at the Nevele Hotel just outside of upstate Ellenville for our honeymoon.

We had four children; one daughter passed away at age 21/2. Our surviving children, their mates and our seven grandchildren have brought us much joy.

Alice worked as manager for Brazil Comtempo in Westbury and now works full-time for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In 1992 she introduced the "Friendship Network," a social program for those recovering from mental illness.

In 1983 I retired from my family's wholesale toy and stationery business, Conbro Products. I have been working part-time as a clerk with the Department of Social Services since 1989.

We celebrate our 63rd anniversary this year. Both Alice and I accept the fact that life is complex. We don't have the answers to all of life's questions. We try not to use words carelessly - they can't be retrieved. The journey through life has given us years, and we find joy in giving back.

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