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Love story: Saul and Jewel Zelin of Hewlett

Saul Zelin of Hewlett recalls finding a gem one New Year's Eve when he met his future wife, Jewel.

My buddy's girlfriend, Florence, had to entice her friend, Jewel Gordon, to double date with me on New Year's Eve, 1943. We went to a Chinese restaurant. I was 19 and lived in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Jewel was 16 and lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Jewel and I were feeling comfortable with each other during the date, but she began to feel sick so I took her home early. We dated a few weeks until February, when I was called for my enlistment as a cadet in the Army Air Forces.

I was stationed in Atlantic City for basic training and in Massachusetts for flying school and then I went to Texas for navigators school.

Jewel was voted the prettiest girl in her high school, Lafayette High School, which made me fear that I would lose her. Fortunately for me, our relationship grew stronger and was nurtured by many love letters and furloughs during my air corps training. She wrote lovely love letters.

During my third furlough home we became engaged, and during my next furlough, on Nov. 11, 1945, we got married. Jewel was able to return with me to the Gowen Field air base in Boise, Idaho, and we honeymooned there in a rooming house.

When the war ended, I was sent for discharge to Tacoma, Wash. While we were leaving the Tacoma Hotel, Gen. Eisenhower stepped into the elevator with one of his officers, who reprimanded me for being out of uniform. When I answered him with, "I am a civilian now and you are out of line!" Eisenhower burst into laughter.

Returning to civilian life, we lived with Jewel's parents in Bensonhurst. Two years later we purchased a small house in Valley Stream.

I worked with my father and brother in the wholesale food business supplying restaurants. Jewel was our bookkeeper.

Later, I joined my father's family, who owned and operated the Market Diner Restaurants on the West Side of Manhattan, and years later we built the famous Market Diner on 43rd Street and 11th Avenue. Jewel worked as cashier. Many celebrities, including Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Kate Smith, Jackie Kennedy, as well as Mayors Koch and Giuliani, frequented the restaurant. I retired in 2004 when the restaurant and property was sold.

Jewel and I have been blessed with two sons and one daughter. Unfortunately, we lost one of our sons, but have been blessed with eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We plan to celebrate our 65th anniversary with our entire family.

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