Jack and Pearl Hayne of Old Bethpage discovered mother knows best when it comes to matchmaking. Jack explains.
On July 17, 1943, during World War II, I was a 19-year-old Army private stationed at Fort Totten in Bayside, Queens, trained as an ammunition loader and gunner on 40 millimeter anti-aircraft guns. I had a weekend pass and decided to visit my grandparents, who were spending the summer in the Catskill Mountains. My family was from Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
I hitchhiked 120 miles to the small town of Mountain Dale where they were staying. Getting a ride was easy, as everyone was glad to help a serviceman. Upon arrival, I found my mother was also visiting. She invited me to take a walk into town so she could introduce me to some of the girls. I thought, "Uh oh, this could be bad." But not wanting to disappoint her, I went along.
She took me into a store and introduced me to a very busy, gorgeous brunette named Pearl. Her family owned the store. Later, mom left but I stayed on to help.
Pearl, 16, put me to work setting up a display. A few hours later, my future mother-in-law handed me a deposit slip, a bag of money and the keys to the pickup truck. She gave me directions to a bank in the next town and sent me off. Now that was a trusting woman!
From then on I'd hitchhike back to visit Pearl whenever I could get a pass. I found out two months later that my aunt wanted her son, my cousin, to meet Pearl. Knowing I might have competition, I proposed to Pearl, but she was wise enough to decline because of the war.
When the fighting ended, I won an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, an hour away from Pearl. Cadets at U.S. Military Academy were forbidden to have a horse, mustache, car or wife, so marriage had to be postponed an additional four years. We saw each other as much as possible, often at the Academy's weekend dances.
I graduated June 7, 1949, and we were married that day in the Cadet Chapel. We exited through a tunnel of cadets holding their crossed swords above our heads. A year later, the Korean War began and I was deployed for 19 months.
I stayed in the Army and we traveled the world together. Pearl worked in banking near Mountain Dale, then as a teacher in Oberammergau, Bavaria. She has been a wonderful homemaker and mother to our two beautiful children. We now have one grandchild. In 1964, I retired from the military as a captain. I then worked at Grumman Aerospace, building Navy aircraft systems, and retired in 1988 as a project engineer.
We recently celebrated our 65th wedding anniversary with our family at Frederick's in Melville. Pearl has been the love of my life for 65 years. I shall be forever grateful to my mother for playing matchmaker.