Not-So-High-School Sweethearts

The senior portrait of Jan Alscher ’66 as seen on the 1966 Bronx Science yearbook.

1966 Bronx Science yearbook

The senior portrait of Jan Alscher ’66 as seen on the 1966 Bronx Science yearbook.

Going to the same high school and later, the same college, while never meeting each other seems quite impossible. However, for Jan Alscher ’66 and Michael Greenstein ’66, it was the beginning of their love story, the impossible made possible.

The two attended Bronx Science together while never having met. Subsequent to graduating, the pair attended City College in Manhattan. While in college, they were both a part of the House Plan and in the Human Relations Committee, where they met for the first time. As a student leader, Alscher inevitably found herself in a group with Greenstein one day. Participants were given clay and told to express themselves with it however they pleased. Young and full of angst, Greenstein molded a small person-shaped figure and placed it inside a small box he constructed out of the clay, claiming he felt closed in and unable to express himself.

“Get out of the box!” said Alscher as she destroyed the figurative mental state of her future husband.

1966 Bronx Science yearbook
The senior portrait of Michael Greenstein ’66 as seen on the 1966 Bronx Science yearbook.

This gesture had quite an impact on Greenstein, who asked her on a dinner date immediately after. However, they did not feel an immediate connection and so, the two decided not to go on a second date.

After six years of not seeing or contacting each other, the two coincidentally reunited in Acapulco, Mexico. Alscher and Greenstein went on vacation separately with their respective friends. Greenstein recalls stepping into an elevator and noticing Alscher approaching, when suddenly, the door closed.

“I remembered who she was,” said Greenstein. “I asked about her to some hotel workers but they told me they didn’t have her registered.”

The next day, Greenstein was lounging by the pool and eventually drifted to sleep. In what seemed like a movie moment, he woke up to Alscher sitting in the pool chair beside his. Immediately, the two picked up right where they had left off.

“I’ll admit there wasn’t an immediate connection, but I knew something had to be going on. There were too many signs,” said Greenstein.

They decided to give dating a second chance. This time, there was a second date, as well as a third and a fourth, and so on.

“The rest is history,” said Alscher, “We have been married for 39 years and have two sons. One of them got married on October 20th!”

“We have been married for 39 years and have two sons. One of them got married on October 20th!”

Although they were together for a while, the two were oblivious to the fact that they graduated from Bronx Science the same year. Several years ago, they transferred all of Greenstein’s family’s eight millimeter film to VHS. They sat down to watch it one night and reminisced about his childhood having been raised in the Bronx, watching highlights from his Bar Mitzvah and posed photos of his family cheerfully waving to the camera. These were shortly followed by pictures of the Class of 1966 graduation ceremony. Suddenly, Alscher noticed a familiar face in the background of one of the photos — it was her 18-year-old self, unaware of the camera taking a picture of her and her future husband. This is when they knew it was meant to be.

Nowadays, Alscher and Greenstein spend their days together in Westchester, New York. Greenstein, who is a psychology professor at Mercy College, likes to keep busy. “I take tai chi classes, go to the gym, and recently started playing the cello,” said Greenstein.

Alscher, who is now retired, enjoys accompanying him during his tai chi classes.“I had a rewarding career as a social worker at the New York Presbyterian and am now trying to figure out the rest of my life. I’m sure it will be a long one, but I don’t know what it will look like,” said Alscher.

Regardless of what the future holds, one thing is for sure: Alscher and Greenstein will continue to share their one-of-a-kind story with others. The pair reminds us that life is full of uncertainties — who knows who we will stumble upon in six years?