On a blanket, under a tree in the Glen Oaks apartment complex in Queens, New York City, Carol and I read True Confessions, True Romance, and True Story magazines. Shiny covers showed a handsome man tilting a beautiful girl in the about-to-be-kissed passionately pose. She often had a bare shoulder and more than a hint of cleavage showing.
The stories seemed to have recurring themes. A young girl lies to her parents and has a secret meeting with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks or, a young girl lies to her parents and has a secret meeting with a boy from the right side of the tracks. These railroad romances often took a dark but surprising turn usually on the “to-be-continued” page. I don’t remember Carol’s last name and that seems somehow wrong of me. Glen Oaks apartments are still in existence and so are the romance magazines only now they sell for $4.99 not twenty-five cents. I like to think there are still grammar school girls munching candy while reading stories under trees, though I imagine clicking or scrolling instead of turning paper pages.
I supplied the quarters for these romance magazines and Carol supplied the courage to walk into a store in broad daylight, and purchase them in front of people. I know Carol was tall for kids our age, and had ink black hair. My family moving from the Glen Oaks apartments to a ranch house in Little Neck, Long Island ended my reading romance magazines. I hope Carol found happiness, on either side of the railroad, and that whatever dark turns may have occurred were transformed into starry nights of true romance.