Fred Harber of Lake Success talks about meeting and marrying Roslyn.
In 1973 I lived in Manhattan, owned a printer’s platemaking business on 25th Street — and I was getting divorced. One of my customers was a printing company down the block where Roslyn Brodsky, a wonderful and beautiful woman, was the comptroller. We saw each other often at a nearby diner.
She was also getting divorced, and I eventually asked her out. We had dinner at the Bay Ridge Seafood House in Brooklyn and had a wonderful time. I was smitten. When I drove her home to Sheepshead Bay, I asked her a question, one with some history. When I separated from my first wife, I was devastated. A friend, to get me out of my funk, asked me what was something I always wanted to do but never did. I immediately called a flight school and signed up for lessons and eventually became a pilot.
The question I asked Roz was, “Would you like to fly with me tomorrow?” She answered, “I’d like to fly with you!”
The next morning, we headed to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey where I had a rental plane waiting. My plan was to circle the Statue of Liberty a few times and return (something that was allowed back then). After the preflight routine was finished, I radioed the tower for flight permission. I thought if Roz was frightened, this was the time she would tell me, but she seemed fine. I received permission to take off, and until we were about 500 feet in the air, I was very busy.
When I finally looked at her, she was gripping her seat, her eyes were tightly closed and her teeth clenched. I asked her if she wanted me to land. Through her gritted teeth she managed to say, “GET ME DOWN!” I didn’t realize it then, but that was the end of my piloting career.
About two weeks later, I wanted to introduce Roz to my family. Several of my aunts and uncles were artists and free thinkers, and Roz blended in beautifully — so well that she was considered the new kid on the block. At one point having some reservations about our relationship, she tried to break up with me. My attitude was when you find someone or something really precious, you don’t easily give up.
We were married at the Avenue R Jewish Center in Brooklyn on Christmas Eve 1974, guaranteeing we would always have the day after our anniversary off. Each of us brought two sons to the marriage. Hers were 21 and 18. Mine were 7-year-old twins. From day one, the four of them got along very well. We were a big happy family.
When Roz’s first husband died in 1988, I had an idea. I wanted to adopt my wife’s sons. First, I asked my twins. If they didn’t agree, I would drop the issue. One of them said three words which, after 31 years, still chokes me up. He said, “Go for it!”
It is not easy to adopt adults, but we got it done, and they changed their names in time for one of them to get married with my last name. We have four sons, three daughters-in-law and one granddaughter.
Roz and I have many fond memories from our 45 years of marriage. Our home in Lake Success has no steps, and we never want to move.
My advice to all is simple: Maintain your health and fitness, and save enough money to live comfortably in your golden years, which can be the best years of your life!
— With Ann Donahue-Smukler
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