Mira and Rolf Grayson of Melville met and fell in love far from home during World War II. Rolf recalls their courtship.
It was January 1942 when my wife, Mira, and I met in London. We were both Jewish refugees from Germany, having had the good fortune to come to England shortly before World War II began in 1939.
My sister would invite other young people, most of them refugees like us, to her apartment for tea. Mira's girlfriend, who knew my sister, introduced us at one of these get-togethers.
She was just six weeks away from her 16th birthday. Although I was 22, she seemed quite mature, and I soon found myself attracted to her.
Mira came to London when she was 12 through Kindertransport, a series of rescue missions that brought children, mostly Jewish, to the United Kingdom. Her family was left behind in Germany. A foster family took her in but, with the beginning of the war and the bombing raids, London's children were evacuated to the countryside. She had just returned after three years living with various families in Kent.
I had a job in a defense plant. Mira was a seamstress in a uniform manufacturing company, where she worked 6½ days and 48 hours a week. We lived not very far from each other and soon became quite friendly.
In October 1943, we became engaged. At that time, Mira moved out of her foster home and took a furnished room nearby. We saw each other daily.
Our wedding day was July 2, 1944. We celebrated with tea and a slice of cake. After the end of the war in 1945, we located family members of mine who had managed to get to America before the war. As soon as the opportunity arose, we made application to immigrate here.
In June 1948, we finally received permission and left for the United States with our 3-year-old daughter. When we sailed into New York Harbor, there was a delay unloading our ship, so we spent the Fourth of July onboard. I remember watching the cars on the Belt Parkway and wondering, "Where are they all coming from?" I had never seen anything like it.
We first settled in Brooklyn but were able to buy a Levitt house in 1956, at which time we also had a son. We now have four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Mira and I worked together running our business, M&R Manufacturing Co., in West Babylon. We retired in 1991 and moved to an adult community in Melville. We will celebrate our 70th anniversary with a family reunion.