Joan Schumacher of West Islip recalls the day she met her husband, George, and how they "ironed out" their differences.
Our love story began in the hallway of West Babylon Junior High School in September 1960. My sixth-grade pupils were returning from gym period with their instructor — a very good-looking man in a sweatshirt with "Coach" written on it — and another teacher, my friend Herbie Hemendinger. Herbie introduced us: "Joan, I'd like you to meet George Schumacher," he said.
It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. George and I had just transferred to the school. He was 27, and I was 29. We saw each other at school, just a few blocks from my home, and afterward. We dated on weekends, too. George lived in Smithtown, but his Volkswagen was seen parked in front of my house just about every day. By February we were engaged and planning a July wedding.
Many of our friends wondered how this could have happened. I was into books, classical music, concerts and the theater, while George liked sports, jazz, coaching and going to games. All I knew was that this was the boy I wanted to marry and that after we exchanged vows we would iron out the rest. On July 1, 1961, George and I wed at St. Joseph's Church in Babylon.
It didn't take long to iron out the differences. George learned to love concerts, the theater and books along with games, like Scrabble, that we played with our daughter and two sons. I learned to swim. I also began to love the physical energy exerted from running and doing aerobics at the gym. But eventually my knee gave out, and I had to give up running. So now George runs and I walk, but we do it together. I never learned to love jazz, though.
Our family now includes two daughters-in-law and three granddaughters. Last year our youngest son and his wife helped us put together 4 1/2 hours of music that George and I both love for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration at the Three Village Inn in Stony Brook. To complete the circle, Herbie, the mutual friend who introduced us, was at the party.
What has mattered most to us over the years was the love that George and I felt that September day in 1960 and the love we feel for each other now.