Lori and Harold "Hal" Salyer of Shoreham grew up on Long Island when the landscape was very different from today's. Hal recalls their childhood and courtship.
I grew up in Sound Beach, and my wife, then Lori Eickhoff, grew up in nearby Rocky Point during the 1930s and 1940s. The area was very rural -- we bought our milk from a local farmhouse -- and, with most of the population made up of summer residents, it turned into a ghost town come Labor Day.
We both attended Rocky Point Grade School, which was composed of eight classes sharing four classrooms. I was four years older than Lori, and we'd see each other outside during recess. We went on to Port Jefferson High School, but it wasn't until 1950 when we joined a youth group called the Luther League, run by Trinity Lutheran Church, that we really got to know one another. There were only eight members. As a group, we'd go to the ice cream parlor in town, play football on the beach or just go for walks.
Lori was 18 and I was 22 when we actually started dating in 1951, just before I was drafted into the Army. I was sent to Camp Roberts in California and trained as a combat engineer. When I told my Army buddy and fellow Long Islander Don Spence that I hadn't asked Lori to marry me because we were being shipped over to Korea, he advised me to get her a ring or I might lose her.
I went to the post exchange on base and found a ring I could afford, mailed it to Lori and then called her to say she'd be receiving a package but she wasn't to open it.
Two weeks later we got orders that we were shipping out to Korea. I called Lori and told her to open the box. She did, and promptly passed out on the floor. Her family was quite upset not knowing what had happened to her. When she came to, I asked her to marry me.
I returned home from Korea in January 1954, and we were married a month later, on Feb. 6, at Saint Paul's Lutheran Church in Port Jefferson. The reception was at The Brauhaus in Rocky Point. The music was provided by the Tee Pee Indians, the North Shore Beach Fire Department's marching band. You have never heard such a loud band in your life, and they played forever. We eventually bought a house in Shoreham, just two miles from my family's home.
We have been blessed with five wonderful daughters, hardworking sons-in-law, nine terrific grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. I retired in 1995 as an assistant engineer with Suffolk County Water Authority. Lori retired in 1997 as a school bus driver with Shoreham-Wading River School District.
Life has been good to us. Lori and I will celebrate 60 wonderful years of marriage this year. We are so lucky to have experienced those years in this wonderful community.