Chalk it up to chemistry: An easy marriage of 58 years for New Jersey couple


Barbara and Al Goldstein, long marriage

Barbara "Bobbie" and Al Goldstein talk about their marriage in their Tinton Falls, N.J., home. Photo by Robert Stern


Barbara “Bobbie” and Al Goldstein’s 58-year-old marriage is one of those partnerships that coalesced because of great chemistry.

Indeed, it was chemistry – the scientific kind, not the romantic version – that brought them together in the first place.

They met each other in a dust-up at a science conference at Yale University in April 1951.

Both were senior chemistry majors at Rutgers University, but they were enrolled in different colleges within Rutgers, so they didn’t know each other until the Yale science conference they were attending separately.

Luckily, he managed to get some chalk dust on the back of his jacket while carelessly leaning against a blackboard at the conference. Luckily, too, she happened to walk near him, notice the chalk dust and reached out to wipe it off with her hands.

That was their introduction.

They talked a bit during the rest of the conference and he couldn’t get her off his mind.

When he returned to Rutgers, he looked up her phone number and called her several times in her dorm room before she returned from Yale.

“Then we started going together,” Bobbie Goldstein said.

The end of the hunt

He knew from the day they met that she would be his true love, Al Goldstein said.

“I knew that this was the end of my hunting from day one,” he said. “Our personalities clicked.”

Her certainty that he was the one came about a little more gradually, she said.

“It materialized. I can’t say that I can pinpoint as of exactly when,” Bobbie Goldstein, now 80, said. “It was surprising, the fact that he ended up feeling that way so quickly.”

He tried to make sure from early on to leave no doubt in her mind about the intensity of his feelings for her.

When she and some of her college girlfriends took a cross-country drive to California and back in the early summer of 1951, he made sure to get the itinerary of all the towns where they planned to stop along the way.

And he told her to check with the Post Office at their first stop because he planned to send her a letter there.

He did just that and much more. To her surprise and delight, she had a letter waiting for her from him at the Post Office in each town on their itinerary.

“It even got to the point that, I guess on the return part of the trip, the others were saying, ‘Let’s change our itinerary and head home a little bit faster,’” Bobbie Goldstein recalled. “And I said, ‘Nope. We’re going down to wherever as planned because it’s a mail stop.”

He proposed to her around Thanksgiving of their first year together and they had their wedding at The Essex House in Newark on June 15, 1952.


Al and Barbara Goldstein, long marriage

Al and Barbara "Bobbie" Goldstein on their wedding day, June 15, 1952.


Forging their own paths

He completed his doctorate in chemistry at Cornell University and went on to work as a chemist with various firms, among them General Foods, Catalin Corp., a resin and polymer manufacturer, and a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

In 1971, he started his own company of consulting chemists, Goldstein Associates, where he continues to work on a reduced schedule even today.

After college, she worked briefly at Fort Monmouth but became a stay-at-home mom when, Dan, the first of their four children was born.

She was also doing a lot of volunteer work, taking active roles in Hadassah – an American Jewish volunteer women’s organization – and the Monmouth Reform Temple. Both Al and Bobbie Goldstein are Jewish and are founding members of that temple, in Tinton Falls, N.J., where they have lived in the same split-level, four-bedroom house for 56 years.

Bobbie Goldstein also was involved in the parent-teacher association in the local schools.

As their children grew older, she took a director’s position in the community services section of Brookdale Community College in Monmouth County, N.J.

She retired from that job after 18 1/2 years and then got more involved with volunteer opportunities, including with the League of Women Voters.

Throughout their marriage, each has let the other pursue the interests of their choice, while making the most of shared passions – ranging from travel to art appreciation to camping and involvement in their temple.

Fights? What fights?

Their marriage has thrived without a touch of acrimony because they both came from solid, close families, they said. Their own family of four children and five grandchildren has been a source of strength and joy as well.

“We were very fortunate that both our families were strong families. And so we were brought up with good parents who were loving and caring,” Bobbie Goldstein said.

“We were very careful in choosing our grandparents,” Al Goldstein said jokingly.

His wife, in fact, never knew her grandparents.

“Also, we’re both strong enough that we sort of had our own directions and our own things that we wanted to do,” she said. “And we were supportive of each other. It was never a feeling of one-upmanship.”

Except on the tennis court, where Bobbie Goldstein would always win, and on the golf course, where she also has the upper hand, the two of them don’t have a competitive or divisive relationship.

Surely, though, there must have been fights every now and then.

Not so, they said.

“I hate to say it, but we really haven’t had a fight,” Bobbie Goldstein said. “We just seem to be able to talk it out. Communication has been good. It’s the kind of thing that everybody looks at you and doesn’t believe it when you say that. We’ve just been very lucky.”

She said her favorite qualities of his are that he is caring, says “I love you” every day, and shares in whatever needs to be done.

Those are the same qualities he loves in her, he said.

To make any marriage work, Al Goldstein said, it’s important that each partner not insist on being right all the time.

“You’ve got to listen and you’ve got to converse,” he said. “Don’t insist that you know best.”

“We’ve worked at the marriage,” Bobbie Goldstein said. “There’s no question about that. It’s not going to all come smoothly all the time. But we’ve been very fortunate.”

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2 Responses to Chalk it up to chemistry: An easy marriage of 58 years for New Jersey couple

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