Writing into Sunset 🌅
How two Brooklyn Dodger fans wrote their story together
Welcome back to our Loveletter! This week we feature Thelma and Mike, an affable Upper West Side couple who celebrate their 70th anniversary next April. They remind us that while certain trends change with the decade, stories of love and connection remain timeless.
Thelma and Mike’s story started with “Who are the Dodgers playing tonight?”, and has spanned several baseball seasons since. Read on for a glimpse into the Golden Age era — where radio was preeminent, a letter in the mail meant she was into you, and there was nothing quite like cruising along in a Volkswagon Beetle.
So, how’d you two meet?
Thelma: My girlfriend from summer camp got engaged to Mike’s cousin. And at their engagement party we met and someone said ‘Who are the Dodgers playing tonight?” and we went into the other room and turned on the radio. I don’t think it was televised in those days. And we kept running back and forth to the other room to listen to what the score was. We spent the whole evening with the Brooklyn Dodgers game on the radio. We were both rabid fans. And that made it memorable. I think they even won that night. I don’t remember. But I won the lottery because I won him. So that worked out very well.
Mike: A little side story. It was three girls who met at summer camp, okay. One married my first cousin, Thelma married me and the third young woman married my cousin’s roommate. So the three of us remain friends.
How did we move from Dodgers to first date?
Thelma: He called me very soon after and we started going out on a weekly basis. And then I went off to visit a grandmother who lived in Florida, and that didn’t cool things down so that was a good thing. When I came back we resumed dating. For some strange reason I thought he was more interested in me than I was in him. I was only 20 years old. It’s really too young to be dating now. And one night I picked a big fight with Mike over some movie we had seen. I don’t know why. And I decided I didn’t want to see him anymore. And then one day I woke up a few months later, and I said you know that was really stupid of me, he was really the nicest guy that I ever dated. So I sent him a Valentine card, it was February. More of a hello card, not quite an I love you card. It was sort of a cute card with puppies or something. And he called me to say he had gotten my card, but he had the flu and he was not feeling too well but my card cheered him up.
Mike: Well, I got her card. And I said okay, she’s interested. I’ll give her a call. And I said to myself, if she gives me a hard time that’s the end.
Thelma: But it was only the beginning.
How long were you dating before you got married?
Mike: Eight months. Now I went into the army in January of ‘54. And you took eight weeks of basic training. And then you have a two week leave, and then went back for eight more weeks of some kind of specialized training. And we got married during those two weeks.
Thelma: I was a senior at Brooklyn College. And we got engaged in November of the year I graduated. Mike had already been inducted in the army. And he was stationed at Fort Dix and I used to go out every weekend by bus and bring a box lunch. Well the deal was he never really asked me to marry him. He just called me honey. And I said wear a tuxedo and bring your family. And April 11th we got married.
What has life been like in recent years?
Thelma: We don't even think of ourselves as old although we are. But we're young in spirit. And we're adventurous. The first thing we did when he got out of the army was take a three month tour of Europe. We bought a Volkswagen — a Beetle. And we picked it up at the factory in Germany and we drove because he was on leave from the New York Times. So he knew he had a job when he got back. I worked for the Washington Post. Every day of life has been very adventurous and that fulfilling for us. And we're very proud parents and grandparents. Our kids have wonderful mates. They're happy. And of course the grandchildren are wonderful.
Mike: The key ingredient of a happy marriage is a sense of humor. I could not imagine being married all these years to somebody who didn’t have a sense of humor. Yeah, she has a very quick wit. She’s written two books. I only wrote one (How to Cash In on the Coming Stock Market Boom)… But she's not only a good writer but a good editor and she would frequently edit my copy before I turned it in. And she's known in the family as the best editor in the family.
The two books Thelma published are What Women Earn and What to Name a Cat. After these she became passionate about creating works of art based on found objects.
Thelma: My favorite place to visit is the dump in a small town, or just walking the streets of Manhattan I found really interesting pieces of rust. I’m a big admirer of rust. One whole wall on the deck of our house was filled with over 300 rusty items that we collected on weekends and we had determined not to sell the house to anyone who didn’t appreciate the wall. We did manage to harvest a number of the pieces because our son is making his own rust wall. And our son’s two children have small tattoos on them, just above their wrists; it’s my mantra: “Art speaks with no words.” It's the biggest compliment I could have gotten.
Any advice for young couples starting out in relationships?
Thelma: Well, first of all, I would say we were extremely lucky that we picked the right mates, because we were not very experienced with any you know steady boyfriend or steady girlfriend. Nowadays, we think it’s a very good idea to get to know somebody and to be more mature. We were just very lucky. That maturity came together for the two of us.
Meet Cutes NYC: Thelma and Mike’s story reminds us how important perspective is in shaping our everyday lives and relationships. Their adventurous spirit, gratitude, and sense of humor bring have continued to guide them through wonderful times together. This mindset has allowed them to see the beauty in things often overlooked such as dumpsters and rust, and has permeated through their entire family.
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