Summer Love, Part 3: The Proposal


1977 – 1979

About one year after we met, Peter decided to move to Boston, MA to study for a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at Boston University with Rosellen Brown, a well known author. We were dating and very much in love. It was not a surprise when he suggested I transfer to a University in Boston and move there with him. So I applied to several schools and was accepted to all but matriculated at UMass Boston, because I was given a scholarship. Peter’s mom helped us move by driving us to Boson with our stuff loaded in her station wagon.


Visiting NJ from Boston, 1978


Visiting NJ from Boston, 1978

We found a first floor apartment in the middle of the Boston College student ghetto, on Sutherland Road not far from Cleveland circle, but in reality, closer to BC. We commuted to classes and enjoyed Boston and the intellectual climate of both universities. Together we survived the big blizzard of 1978. Peter was making progress on his novel and continued to write poetry. Unfortunately, his money was running out so he took a job as a chemist with  a local company. It was not long before he decided that to be respected in his field he needed to further his education or do “something else”. He applied to several Doctoral programs as well as the Air Force and the Navy. He took the aptitude test to become a pilot.  Keep in mind that he had never flown a plane nor had he ever studied aeronautics.  The results of the test offered him a place in the Air Force as a navigator. He decided that if he was not flying the plane, then he was not going to navigate one, either. Then he received a letter from The Department of The Navy for an interview with Admiral Rickover to discuss Nuclear Submarines.  That was exciting, maybe too exciting and he declined the invitation. UMass Amherst accepted him into their Chemistry PHD program and several other universities did, too. To our great disappointment, he was rejected by MIT. Peter corresponded back to the Department Chair, Dr. Glenn Berchtold and questioned how he could reject a Duke Graduate at the very top of his class in Chemistry? They next thing we knew, MIT came calling and Peter joined Dr. Berchtold’s department as a candidate for a Doctorate degree in Organic Chemistry at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Boston Common

Me, Boston Common, 1978

All this came about suddenly and shortly after receiving the acceptance letter we headed into the city for a day of shopping and fun.  As we walked through the Boston Garden, Peter talked about MIT and moving to Cambridge, MA and would I move with him? Well, hum, I had to think about that. I was not getting any younger, I would be 22 that summer, and as a PHD candidate he would be occupied day and night. I was finishing up at UMass and guys were always asking me out . . . Did I just want to tag along with him to MIT, as the girlfriend, hum, probably not. . .


Boston Hay Market, 1978

By this time we were up past the Red Line subway entrance and the Hari Krishnas, heading down a side street toward Filene’s Bargain Basement. Peter steered us across the street and directly into Stowels Jewelry store. “What if I buy you a diamond ring and we get married this summer before I start the program”? he asked.  Not unlike being asked out to the ballet, I did not hesitate, YES! The diamond was small, but very high quality. I remember having difficulty focusing on school work as all I wanted to do was look at my beautiful diamond ring and dream about our upcoming summer wedding.

MIT Graduate

The Graduate, MIT, 1983

UMASS Boston

The Other Graduate, University of Massachusetts at Boston, 1981


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