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Love Story: Troim and Frank Handler

Troim and Frank Handler celebrate their 65th wedding

Troim and Frank Handler celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in 2011. Credit: Handout

Troim and Frank Handler, formerly of West Islip, marked their 65th wedding anniversary last year. Troim recalls how they met.

I was 16 in 1943 when I met Frank at a book club in Passaic, N.J., where we had both grown up. He was 17 and a naval recruit, preparing to ship out to fight in the Pacific.

We frequently went out on dates. Before he set sail, I bought him a gift for Father's Day: a recording of a Rachmaninoff piano concerto. This was a bold move, as we weren't "seriously" dating at the time, but I had already decided that Frank would one day make a perfect father for my children.

During the war, Frank and I corresponded; by war's end, his father had died and so had my mother, so when he returned we both felt rather adrift, with no specific life plans. As we shared support and comfort with each other at this confusing time, Frank said, "Let's get married," and so we did, four weeks later, on Sept. 14, 1946, at the Odd Fellows Hall in Passaic. We spent our honeymoon at the Edison Hotel in Manhattan.

Frank attended NYU during the day. I worked days and took college classes at night. In 1954, my grandfather gave us $4,000 for a down payment on a house. Frank had received his New York teaching license, and we considered Long Island a potential new home. Frank noticed a town called Oceanside on a map. Remembering some pleasant times he'd spent at a Marine camp in Oceanside, Calif., he suggested we let serendipity guide us. We took our first trip to Long Island and bought our house.

Frank got a job teaching social studies in the Islip School District, and by 1958, with two small daughters, we had relocated to West Islip, choosing a home near Sunrise Highway because this struck us as such a beautifully romantic name for a street. While there, I began teaching English at Port Jefferson Junior High School.

After I retired in 1986 and Frank retired in 1987, we began second careers as lecturers on Jewish history and the Yiddish language. We have been speaking regularly ever since, at universities and Elderhostels. I was fortunate to spend some time teaching Yiddish at Oxford University in England, as well as having my first book of original Yiddish poetry published at the age of 75.

In 1991, we moved back to New Jersey, but we still have a fond connection to Long Island, where we raised our daughters and where they, and our sons-in-law, in turn raised our four wonderful grandchildren.

Our secret to a successful marriage is to respect each other, and to continue, regardless of your age, to nurture and enjoy the things you love. After all, as my father, the poet Menke Katz, used to say: "In 100 years, we will all be the same age!"

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