By Lisa Kava
It is often said that opposites attract. Carole Cohen, 89, is chatty and social, while her husband Norman, 95, is quiet and likes to keep to himself. The Upper West Side couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on October 6th, with a party complete with live Cuban musicians and Cuban décor to commemorate their 1951 honeymoon in Havana, Cuba. The celebration, which was attended by 50 guests, took place at the couple’s home, Atria 86, a senior living facility on West 86th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive.
“I have more interests than Norman. I am more outgoing. I play cards, canasta, mahjong. I like to go to lectures,” Carole told West Side Rag on a Zoom interview. “I’m a loner, leave me be. Let me do my thing. I like television and going to the gym. I went up on the roof today to get some sun,” Norman said. When asked if they ever argue, Carole exclaimed, “Of course! We are normal.”
The couple met through mutual friends, went to a Chinese restaurant on their first date, and were married on September 16, 1951, at an Italian restaurant called Casa Del Ray in Brooklyn.
The Cohens say the secret to their 70-year marriage is compromise.
“At the beginning, there wasn’t too much compromising to do,” Carole said. But, then, due to Norman’s job as a shoe salesman, the couple moved approximately 10 times over the years. They have lived in various towns in New York and New Jersey. At one point, Norman owned five shoe stores, all over New Jersey. Carole would travel to each one to help wherever needed. They also did a short stint in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1952.
Carole recalls the move to Baltimore as being particularly challenging. “We were told we could not go by the name Cohen. We had to change our name to Corn,” Carole recalled. “This was a very difficult time. We were unable to go to any Jewish organizations. I was happy to return to New Jersey.”
Norman recalled compromising when he stopped drinking. “He wasn’t an alcoholic or anything, he just drank more than I would have liked,” Carole said. “I stopped for Carole, but also for my own health,” Norman added.
They have three sons, two granddaughters, and two grandsons. “I was delighted to have children. I kept hoping for a girl, but kept having boys,” Carole said. “When my children got married, I finally got my girls!”
The Cohens moved to Atria 86 in January 2020. After attending their grandson’s wedding in Boston earlier this fall, they thought to celebrate their milestone anniversary. Heidi Krump, Assistant Executive Director at Atria 86, planned the celebration and decided it would be fun to have a Cuban theme in honor of their honeymoon destination.
“Carole’s friends who she has met since moving in were all there to celebrate her,” said a representative from Atria 86. One son, who lives in New York, attended, while their other children and grandchildren in Boston and California joined virtually.
At the celebration, the couple made a toast to love, to many more years together, and to continued compromise.