They met at a USO dance at Fort Meade. He had just finished training at Fort Riley in Kansas and was happy to be back east. He was from Queens Village, N.Y.
She grew up in Linthicum and went to the dance that night to say goodbye to a high school friend who was shipping out.
It was May 1943.
He didn’t ask her to dance — he asked her to dinner. Their meeting place was at the corner of Lexington and Liberty, by the gas and electric building. He got there first, and as he was waiting for her, a man in green suede shoes sidled up to him with a proposition.
“Looking for a good time, soldier?”
“No,” he said, flustered and a little bit shocked. “I’m waiting for my wife.”
A lie that became the truth for dinner that night went well: There were more dinners and more dates, and by July, the couple was engaged. He called his father in New York and asked him to buy her a wedding ring and send it to him.
Then, on Aug. 7, 1943, this young couple — my grandparents Bob Klein and Bernice Bernheimer — got married. He was 22. She was 18.
The picture from that day is adorable. He wore his uniform. She wore a dusty rose shirred-bodice dress that her mother had made. His sister was the maid of honor and a fellow soldier served as the best man. It’s one of my favorite pictures.
This month, my grandparents celebrated 70 years together.
A while back, when they had been married for, oh, a scant 50 years or so, I asked my grandmother what she thought was the reason their marriage had lasted so long.
“Luck,” she said with modesty.
But there has been more than that. There’s compatibility, for one — she still laughs at his corny jokes. They still enjoy being together.
And they have shared many of the same interests, like reading and entertaining. When I was a kid, they traveled a lot and socialized with a regular group of friends. They were fashionable – still are – and fun.
Equally important, they knew how to compromise over the likes they didn’t share. My sisters and I grew up watching them alternate vacation destinations, because she likes the beach and he likes the mountains. So one year they would go to the Jersey Shore. The next year, the Poconos.
Be and Bob. They have always been a team.
And they have made it look easy, actually. It wasn’t always, of course. Anyone who has been married for even a year knows that it couldn’t have been.
But that’s the thing about them. They have made marriage look doable — and worth doing.
All for the past 70 years.