Love Story: George and Smerida Kontos
George and Smerida "Sandy" Kontos, of Manorville, had several unusual experiences on their wedding day and during an abbreviated honeymoon. George tells their story.
We met at Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, when Sandy was 17 and I was 18. We had been "keeping company," as they called it, for four years when I received my draft papers from the Army to fight in the Korean War.
I was stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey with the 25th Infantry Division, waiting to be shipped overseas. Sandy and I were already engaged for a year, and we wanted to get married before I left for Korea.
Since it was during Easter Lent, we had to receive special dispensation to marry. I was able to get a two-day pass, and we planned the wedding for March 16, 1952, 10 days before I was scheduled to leave.
Our wedding ceremony was about to begin when I realized I had forgotten the rings. I sent one of my ushers back to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to get them. The church, Holy Trinity Cathedral, was on 74th Street in Manhattan. After delaying as long as we could, the ceremony started. Just as we were about to be pronounced husband and wife using wedding rings borrowed from friends, the usher ran down the aisle with our rings.
That night we went to the St. Moritz Hotel in Manhattan (now the Ritz Carlton at Central Park) to enjoy our last special days together for a long time. Well, it was definitely memorable once Sandy accidentally got locked in the bathroom. She was so embarrassed when the hotel maintenance crew freed her about an hour later.
The next day I had to check in at the base. We drove to New Jersey, and I left Sandy at a motel after kissing her goodbye. When I drove back to be with her about 24 hours later, I forgot which motel she was in. I drove back and forth, passing the same motels and hoping something about one of them would look familiar. I took a guess and was right. After much loud banging, Sandy opened the door. I asked her if she was all right and she said, "Honey, what's wrong, did you forget something?" Sandy had slept for almost 24 hours! I drove her back to her mother's house, and by the time I got back to the base I was absent without official leave (AWOL). They put me on kitchen patrol -- KP duty -- for a day, washing pots and pans. One week later, and with a picture of Sandy to keep me company, I went off to war.
Sandy got a job and waited for me to return. After serving our country for almost two years, I came home.
We have been married 60 terrific years and have four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The same picture of my loving wife that I carried with me through the war now sits on my bedside table. To this day when I come home, Sandy asks with a smile, "Honey, did you forget something?"