THE OTHER HALF

Times of the Islands - - Profile - — M. E.

She was a pretty young thing sit­ting in the NBC news­room and laugh­ing hys­ter­i­cally as she read Rally Round the Flag by Max Shul­man. He­lane Hecht was a pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant at the Camel News Car­a­van with John Cameron Swayze, which was NBC’s first at­tempt at a nightly news show.

Her laugh­ter at­tracted Alan Smith and he came over to see what was so funny. They clicked from the be­gin­ning. Five months later they were mar­ried, and now this Sani­bel cou­ple is pre­par­ing to cel­e­brate their 60th wed­ding an­niver­sary.

In the 1950s and early 60s, He­lane was a stay- at- home mom in New Rochelle, N. Y., but not for long. Once the kids were old enough, she went back to work, tak­ing a job in the qual­ity- con­trol depart­ment of a Band- Aid fac­tory where she worked on an as­sem­bly line. “It was a scene out of Lucy [ I Love Lucy],” she re­calls, re­fer­ring to the hi­lar­i­ous episode where Lu­cille Ball couldn’t keep up with the as­sem­bly line in a choco­late fac­tory and wound up eat­ing half the prod­uct. He­lane’s co- work­ers were lo­cal Ital­ians, who didn’t speak English and com­mu­ni­cated with hand sig­nals and smiles. Not ex­actly the job for this am­bi­tious young mom.

Look­ing for a chal­lenge, He­lane en­tered law school. Af­ter grad­u­a­tion she landed a job in cor­po­rate law and later opened her own prac­tice, re­tir­ing 10 years ago. How­ever re­tired in Peri­win­kle Park is not quite ac­cu­rate. This 82- year- old dy­namo is al­ways on the go, vol­un­teer­ing right along side her other half.

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