A love story

At 25, she was an auburn-haired beauty: slim, athletic, and an excellent dancer. She had no shortage of admirers. But on this particular Saturday evening she found herself dateless; the man she was currently seeing – a successful fellow who took her to all the finest restaurants and shows – was travelling for the weekend. Not wanting the night to go to waste, she decided to see a movie by herself.

She arrived early at the theater and wandered into the ballroom nextdoor in order to kill the few minutes until the movie began. Watching the couples glide across the floor, she tapped her foot to the rhythm of the rumba. She never smoked, but tonight she lit up just to be able to hold the cigarette delicately between her fingers and look like the sophisticated woman she was. The rumba ended and a foxtrot began. Suddenly, a handsome stranger was standing in front of her with his hand extended.

“Would you like to dance?”

She glanced at the freshly-lit cigarette, then back at him, trying to think of a polite way to decline. She was not, after all, here to socialize.

“…I can get you another cigarette, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he said.

“I have to go see the movie next door; it’s starting in just a minute,” she replied.

“That’s all right. It’s only one dance.”

What harm could one foxtrot do? she figured, and took his hand. They began to dance. But something was wrong.

“You’re doing the woman’s part,” she informed him.

“Forgive me,” he said, “but I learned how to dance by watching my mother. Would you show me the right way?”

So she did. But by the time she got him stepping on the correct foot and turning in the correct direction, it was too late.

“I’ve missed my movie,” she sighed.

“I’m terribly sorry,” he said. “But in that case, could I have a few more lessons?”

She taught him the samba, the waltz, the cha-cha, the quickstep… they danced and danced until the band finished playing. He insisted on accompanying her home.

“Will you go to the theater with me next week?” he asked as they arrived on her doorstep.

“I can’t, I have a date.”

“So you’ll break it,” he said. “We have to go together. I’m going to buy two tickets immediately. What show do you want to see?”

He wouldn’t let her refuse. She did see him the next week, and the week after that, and the week after that. He was confident about their future, saying “when we get married…”

“Just a minute,” she would say. “I’m not so sure. After all, we barely know each other!”

But within a few months, his persistent and gentle courtship won her over. She met his family; he met hers.

“He’s a charming lad,” her mother would say, “but darling… he has nothing!” It was true. He had recently returned from military service and couldn’t exactly afford the luxuries of the high life. Her friends and relatives introduced her to many other men – doctors, lawyers, successful businessmen – but he was the one she wanted.

They spent two years saving for their wedding, and on June 10, 1948 they became man and wife.

Sid and Isabelle Hollander – my grandparents.

“When you get married,” she tells me, “may you find someone every bit as loving, caring, and kind as your grandfather.” I hope so too. From their wedding day until the night my grandfather passed on in August 2004, they were married 56 years. And every single day he told her that he loved her.