Patricia McKenna of Douglaston, Queens, remembers when her casual friendship with future husband, Bill, turned into love.
I was working at Continental Insurance Co. in Manhattan in November 1963 when a colleague introduced me to Bill McKenna, a friend of the man she was dating.
Bill lived in Woodhaven, Queens, and I lived in Richmond Hill. We were both 19. He worked weekends and holidays at an A&P in Brooklyn where his father was a manager. Our first date was at the A&P employees' Christmas party. After that, we casually dated off and on, usually going on double dates to the movies, bowling or to Rockaway boardwalk, and White Castle on Rockaway Boulevard for those tiny hamburgers that Bill loved.
Once he picked me up at my parents' house in a borrowed car with a rope tied to the driver's door to keep it closed. Bill had to slide over to the passenger side to get out. My grandmother, who was visiting us, was not impressed.
Another time, Bill stopped by unexpectedly early one Saturday morning. My grandmother was visiting again and sleeping in my room. I was asleep on the living room couch with my hair in rollers and zinc paste dotted on my face. My 6-year-old sister answered the door and let him inside. I jumped up and ran to the kitchen to wash my face while Bill stood in the hallway smiling at me.
By the spring of 1964, our casual friendship was becoming serious. When Bill found out my family planned to move to New Hyde Park in January 1965, he proposed to me before we moved. After a couple of days deliberation -- I thought we were too young -- I agreed. We began a commuter romance and only saw each other on weekends.
On July 1, 1965, Bill came to my house to surprise me with a beautiful engagement ring. I was working late and he had to wait two hours in my parents' living room with the ring in his pocket.
We married on Feb. 12, 1966, at Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill, followed by a reception at Antun's in Queens Village. It was 60 degrees that day, and we thought it was a sure sign of good luck for the future.
For our honeymoon, we flew to Bermuda, the first plane ride for both of us, and stayed at the St. George's Hotel. Every day we explored the island on motorbikes.
Bill, an oil burner mechanic for Petro Fuel Oil Co. in Maspeth, retired in 2009 after 45 years. I retired in 2013 as a dental hygienist with Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
We are enjoying our three children, son-in-law, two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren. In February, we celebrated our 49th anniversary with a quiet dinner and are looking forward to our 50th next year.