Patricia Shih of Huntington recalls how she and her husband Stephen Fricker, a friend from high school, reunited and fell in love.
My husband Stephen and I met in an art class during our senior year at Bowie High School in Maryland. I was 16 and he was 17. We were both transplants from Long Island. In 1954, my family moved from Levittown to Washington, D.C., then to a small development in Maryland, and then in 1961 to the town of Bowie when I was 8 years old. His family moved from Syosset to Bowie when he was 14 in 1966.
Although I had a boyfriend at that time in high school, I couldn’t help but notice that Stephen was the cutest boy in the whole school, and a good artist as well.
He was also very shy, and we didn’t become friends until a year later when I was part of a folk music duo.
I sang with my friend and we both played the guitar. We also had a drummer and a bass player as accompanists. When they decided to leave and start their own band, we looked for replacements.
My friend had a crush on Stephen. He played bass guitar and she suggested we ask him and his best friend, a drummer, to join our group. They agreed, and the four of us performed together for about nine months.
We graduated high school in 1970, and Stephen and I both went to the University of Maryland for a year. We had no further contact with each other until our 20th high school reunion in 1990.
When I first laid eyes on him after 19 years, my first thought was, “WOW! Little Stevie Fricker certainly has grown up nicely!” We caught up on each other’s lives. Stephen had been living in Los Angeles for many years. He returned to Maryland in 1983 and settled in Annapolis. In 1973, I had relocated to San Francisco to attend an art school. I later married and moved back to Long Island in 1979. The marriage ended in divorce and I was now living in Huntington.
After the reunion, we went to my friend’s house and had a jam session. Although sparks flew, I was thinking a long-distance relationship would never last. However, Stephen made it work. We wrote letters, exchanged music cassette tapes, talked on the phone and, when Stephen found out I was going to be in Atlantic City, he drove up to see me.
In 1993, he moved to Huntington. We were married on June 21, 1997, at Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson, followed by a reception at the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island in Garden City.
Stephen gives private guitar lessons. I am a singer-songwriter and he again accompanies me on guitar at concerts. I am also a documentary filmmaker and have recently completed a film about a Long Island doctor called “Undocumented.”
For our 20th wedding anniversary this June, we renewed our vows at a ceremony and reception at the Ethical Humanist Society with the same officiant and the same photographer and band as in 1997. We both still fit in our wedding clothes from 20 years ago!
Fate, with some big help from Stephen, stepped in and thus we found our “other half.”
— With Virginia Dunleavy