George and Kay Kraemer of New Hyde Park, who recently celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary, began dating when they were teenagers. George recalls their courtship.
I was introduced to Kay Hauser in 1939, by her cousin, while I was visiting my grandparents' summer home in Broad Channel, Queens. She was 15 and lived in Broad Channel, too. I was 16 and lived in Middle Village, Queens. We started dating.
Dates were very simple in those days, and there was plenty to do. We had beach parties, went fishing and swimming, walked to Rockaway Playland and ate hot dogs at Weiss' or Artie's on Cross Bay Boulevard or went to Nunley's Carousel and arcade in Broad Channel. On several dates, we went to the 1939-40 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
In 1941, I graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, Queens. Kay graduated the following year from John Adams High School in Ozone Park. We both immediately started working in Manhattan -- Kay as a private secretary for an insurance executive and I as a page boy for Guaranty Trust Co. Unfortunately, we both lost our fathers during this period.
I applied for entry to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point and received my appointment as a cadet/midshipman in 1943. Kay and I saw each other on weekends when I had liberty.
Part of my academy training was spending nine months at sea aboard freighters and transports in the North Atlantic during World War II. I was a Naval Reserve midshipman and sailed in all theaters of the war except the South Pacific.
When I came home after finishing my sea time aboard the USAT Excelsior, Kay and I got engaged. It was D-Day -- June 6, 1944. Then, after graduating from the academy later that year, it was right back out to sea, this time aboard the SS Joshua Thomas for a voyage to Murmansk, North Russia.
Kay and I were married in St. Virgilius Church in Broad Channel on June 8, 1946. She continued working until 1948, when she became a full-time homemaker. She did a remarkable job taking care of our three children while, once again, I was away at sea working for American Export Lines. We lived in Broad Channel before moving to New Hyde Park in 1952.
After a 43-year career in the maritime industry, I retired in 1986 as operations manager with McAllister Bros. Inc., a marine towing and transportation company. Kay and I have been truly blessed with our great children, six wonderful grandchildren and nine outstanding great-grandchildren. The only small glitch is that the family is scattered all along the East Coast. We plan to bring everyone together this fall to celebrate our anniversary.