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Love Story: Despite missteps, they finally walked the aisle

Jack and Barbara Solomon on their wedding day

Jack and Barbara Solomon on their wedding day in January 1959. The couple, formerly of Lido Beach, live in Boca Raton, Fa. Credit: Solomon Family

Barbara Solomon, formerly of Lido Beach, recalls a campus romance with her husband, Jack.

Our love story began in 1956 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, when I was a sophomore and Jack was a junior. I was 19, and he was 20.

Jack was from upstate Mount Vernon. My name was Barbara Wolkenberg, and I was from Lido Beach.  

My sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, planned a dinner dance boat ride, each member inviting a boy for the evening.  

On the boat, Jack, my roommate’s date, asked me to dance. He made sure I noticed he was wearing his Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity pin, meaning he no longer had a steady girlfriend. He asked me to go to the Inter-Fraternity Formal with him. I said I already had a date for the dance — which was true.  

He called the next Thursday for a movie date on Saturday. Since he didn’t ask at least a week in advance, the accepted dating protocol in 1956, I lied and said I had a date.

My parents owned a winter home near the school and that Saturday I went to the movies with my mother. To my horror, we ran into Jack and his date as we left the theater. Embarrassed, I managed an awkward, “Hello.”

I saw Jack again at a New Year’s Eve party. We talked for a while and at one point he said, “I’m going to marry you.” We had never even been on a date!

We both were invited to an afternoon party the next week, and Jack asked me to go with him. We had a lovely time. When he drove me back to my  parents' house, however, he didn’t open the car door for me or walk me to the front door. He just said goodbye and drove off! I told my parents, “I will never go out with Jack Solomon again!”

The next time we saw each other, Jack handed me an adorable white crocheted poodle with a red bow that he had asked his aunt to make for me. He apologized for being rude that day, explaining he was rushing off to catch a flight to New York. He invited me to dinner that evening, but I was having dinner at my parents’ house. I asked him to come with me. When I called my mother to ask if I could bring Jack, she said, “Of course, but I thought you would never see him again.”

Jack and my parents hit it off well, as I knew they would. I was falling in love with this handsome, bright and popular guy.

After Jack graduated in 1958, he served in the Air Force Reserves for six months at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. We married on Jan. 31, 1959, at the Hotel Pierre in Manhattan and moved to Lido Beach.

In 1960 I received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with certification as an art teacher from what's now Hofstra University, where later I completed my master’s degree, in 1961.

Jack worked at his father’s automobile dealership, Kellogg Pontiac, in Manhattan. I was a full-time mom to our two wonderful sons.

In 1981, I began teaching art, first at Lido Elementary School, then second grade at the East Elementary School in Long Beach.

We both retired in 2003. I then worked as a substitute teacher until 2018, when we moved to Boca Raton, Florida. Our sons are married to our two wonderful daughters-in-law. We have four fantastic grandchildren.

On Jan. 31, our 60th anniversary, Jack arranged for us to renew our vows before a rabbi, our family, including my sister and her husband, and friends, at the Boca West Country Club, followed by a celebratory dinner.

— With Virginia Dunleavy

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Access the online form at newsday.com/lilovestory — or send an anecdote along with your phone number and a photo to Love Story, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4250; or email dunleavy@newsday.com, or call Virginia Dunleavy at 631-843-2923. Publication is not guaranteed. Photos cannot be returned and may be used in other publications affiliated with Newsday.

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