One girlfriend of the group said “When you and he locked eyes, there was no one else in the room– for either one of you.” She was right.

I was 23, out with a few of my hometown friends, two of us were teachers and the other worked for the Mathematical Society on South Main St., in Providence. As single women, we’d gone to the Quonset Inn for the dancing that would ensure we had a chance to meet eligible men from Quonset Point—preferably young officers. The QI was a reputable restaurant/inn in North Kingstown that showcased bands.

He was literally tall, dark and handsome, and he had a marked similarity to Carol Burnett’s winsome co-star Lyle Waggoner.

From our first meeting that night, Al and I went together for 18 months and saw each other almost nightly. He worked the 3-11 PM shift as an airplane mechanic at Quonset Point, a likely job since he’d served in the military as member of the helicopter crew dispatched to recover pilots and crews shot down in the Viet Nam war.

We were both committed at the time to equal rights for all and supported a political agenda that had that as its primary goal. John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King had been our heroes.

Or so I believed.

After a two year courtship, we married in my Catholic church. He’d agreed to raise our future children in the Catholic faith; we’d had the Pre-Cana preparatory experience whereby we—with a church-appointed guide– discussed topics that have derailed couples in their marriage: how each sees his or her individual roles, future objectives as a couple, who makes what decisions, money matters, etc.

We married on a sunny day, August 9, 1969, in that church that sat on a hill overlooking the valley and our reception followed at the Quidnessett Country Club in North Kingstown.

We honeymooned in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, where to my shock, tall, lanky Eddie McGee, a student from my homeroom at Park View Jr. High, in Cranston. called out “Hey, Miss Kelly, what are you doing here?” I admit to being embarrassed. I was wearing my skimpy leopard bikini bathing suit.

But my accidental meet-up with Eddie McGee wouldn’t be the only shock I’d experience as a new bride; other more upsetting ones would follow.

From “In the Shadow of Princes,” a not-yet-released autobiographical account by Colleen Kelly Mellor.

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