Joan and Joe Guadagno of Brightwaters met at a road rally. Joan recalls their courtship.
During the 1980s, I tried many things in my search for Mr. Right: church get-togethers, bars, dinner clubs for singles, blind dates, a dating service and the Newsday personals section. Then one day in 1988, I saw an ad in the paper for The Friends of the Roundtable, a new social club geared to the “over 30” set. I drove to a meeting at Tee Tee’s Landing in Huntington, went through a lengthy written and verbal interview and, venturing outside my comfort zone, joined the club.
The first big event I attended was in March 1989 at John Anthony’s restaurant in Babylon. There was a brunch followed by a “couples” road rally. I was paired with Joe Guadagno, 38, from North Massapequa. I was 43 and lived in Oakdale.
We were seated together at brunch. Afterward I hopped into Joe’s snazzy red car, a Nissan 200SX Notchback, and off we went. When I asked whether he knew what we were supposed to do, Joe gave me a Suffolk County map and said that we’d figure it out along the way. We were given clues to find 10 destinations. One clue was “a play by Henrik Ibsen,” and I directed Joe to a bar in Oakdale called the Doll’s House. We traversed most of Eastern Suffolk for the next four hours and were the last to return. However, we were the only couple to get to all of the destinations and won a first-prize trophy.
Over the next two months I saw Joe at various club events, but he never asked me out. Finally, in May, he invited me to dinner. Our first date was at Schooner’s restaurant in Port Jefferson. More dates followed, including drives to the East End and a weekend leaf-peeping in Vermont. We met each other’s parents and enjoyed family dinners. We loved talking and being in each other’s company.
That December, we were having lunch at the Old Street Pub in Smithtown when Joe took out a card and began reading what he had written. “Joan, the past 91⁄2 months of getting to know you have been wonderful. I truly love you very much — much more than anything in my whole life . . . I would like to spend the rest of my life with you.” Through happy tears I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” On Oct. 6, 1990, we were wed at St. John Nepomucene in Bohemia.
Joe retired in 2013 as assistant business manager with the Elmont School District. I retired in 2002 as manager of the Smithtown Library’s Commack branch. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a romantic dinner for two, and we plan a weeklong cruise to Bermuda.
— With Virginia Dunleavy