I turned 16 just ten days before I met the man of my dreams. Fewer than three months later, we had our first date on October 4, 1969. That was the same year the first man landed on the moon and the Woodstock Festival changed the way the youth dressed and acted.
We met at a friend’s party near Warinanco Park in Elizabeth, New Jersey and became engaged at the same park on August 10, 1973. We married on June 15, 1975, with dreams but lots of uncertainty about where life would take us.
At that time, we never could have imagined celebrating on the radio 50 years since our first date, chatting about our journey. Especially not on my husband’s show. He began broadcasting The World of Work with Shep Cohen (using his middle name) on July 11, 1997.
Last Friday, we spent an hour on the air discussing things such as our first date at the Union Drive-In Movie Theater, where we saw Change of Mind, and that we both dressed in bell bottoms. The number one song on the Hit Parade was Sugar Sugar by the Archies, and I commented that it happened to be playing on the radio when we were driving back from the Catskill Mountains, my happy place, on July 18, 2019, our 50th anniversary of when we first met. For more memories from our first date, see my blog post “So, How’s School.?” (February 26, 2019)
We enjoyed reminiscing on the radio about the 1969 prices of various necessities (with a little help from the internet). Who remembers, for example, the cost of bread was $.23 a loaf, or the cost of gas $.32 a gallon? I laughed at the memory of my mother-in-law-to-be at the time handing Arnee (Shep) $2.00 and telling him not to fill it up. We spoke of handwritten letters, transistor radios, pay calls, and the absence of cell phones.
Also, we discussed Saturday night dates on the cheap, often simply “people watching” at the terminals in Newark Airport, and ending the evening with freshly baked bagels from Watson Bagel on Chancellor Avenue in Irvington. That was before all the fancy specialty bagels and toppings, when they only sold plain or salt bagels. See the history of Watson Bagel by Nat Bodian at https://www.virtualnewarknj.com/memories/weequahic/bodianbagel.htm
There was milk in vending machines out on the streets, when a gallon sold for $1.10. Shep never got to buy his milk from a machine, however, since his father, a 35 year veteran milkman, brought the milk home to his family. A new car was approximately $2,000 in 1969, and a new house sold for approximately $40,000.
How lucky we are to have been able to shout out on the radio to our three children Judd, Rina and Moss, as well as the latest additions to our growing family, with the birth of our granddaughter Solly Ilah Cohen on April 20th this year, to our children Dena and Judd Cohen, and our daughter Rina’s marriage to Eric Weil on June 30
The reaction to our delightful discussion included remarks such as the heartwarming comments from listeners posted below.
From Basil Dubrosky:
”Subject: Shep and his wife, precious!
I remember most of what they are talking about, wish I were there to
reminisce with them.”
Basil Dubrosky added:
Have you ever been to a drive-in Movie? It is a venue that has all but disappeared. I remember going to the Union drive-in off Route 22 when I was a kid. My cousin Tommy and I would get in the trunk of our neighbor's Ed and Marie's car to avoid the admission charge. We would then pop out after we were parked. This was a real thrill for us young kids and the movies were scary or full of action and just the kind young kids loved.
There was always the most appealing junk food advertised on the screen before the movie started. We would make the trek to the concession stand and load up on goodies.
Sometimes the speaker would go out and you had to drive around in the dark to find a spot with a working speaker. If you put on your lights the other cars would blow their horns in protest.
When we vacationed in Idaho we saw a family in a pickup with a full length couch in the bed of the truck, ready to enjoy the movie in comfort.
We all did our early smooching in the drive-in. Somehow the drive-in environment emboldened couples to smooch in the privacy of their car.
If there is a drive-in movie still open I bet they are showing a cartoon and a scary Godzilla movie!”
Bus driver Paul wrote:
“Subject: Way to Go Shep and Sharon
I am so jealous of you!
You have what my parents had - a lasting relationship.
And there is no denying relationships can be work - as in the world of work!
Bus Driver Paul continued with:
“Subject: bread and milk
I was born in 1969.
My father was a milkman and later a bread man.
My mom worked at Nabisco in Philly.
I always said "You can' t go wrong with milk and cookies!"
Thanks for sharing your first date with us.
Bus Driver Paul”
Bob Cull, another WDVR radio show host, stopped by the studio after the show to congratulate us and told us that our chat was riveting and he couldn’t stop listening for one second. He said it was the best discussion of nostalgia since the founder of the station Frank Napp passed away five years ago.
Friends and relatives tuning in from near and far had lots of positive feedback. My brother Stu said he thinks it flew by the fastest of all the interviews he’s heard, and he remembered all but the fruit cake Shep cautioned me to taste when I met his grandmother, in order to win her approval. It worked like a charm even though I had to choke down the unappealing dough.
If you missed the live broadcast, keep checking, you will soon be able to hear the recording by simply going to the WDVR-FM website at www.wdvrfm.org or directly at https://www.wdvrvolunteers.org/the-world-of-work. Until other past shows are recorded on-line, you may enjoy some that have already been posted and be sure to also read my blog post about Shep’s 22 years as host of The World of Work with Shep Cohen, by clicking on the link below. https://www.sharonmarkcohen.com/blog/2019/5/11/zhghy5kdblz1yqzofbqwawd3tddwgm