Tony Coscia of Bellmore recalls meeting his wife, Rachel.

In 1966, I was 18 and a recent graduate of St. Raymond’s High School in the South Bronx. My best friend, Tom Burns, was dating a girl named Sue Kling. When she learned I had broken up with my girlfriend, Sue wanted to introduce me to her good friend Rachel “Rae” Castiello. Rae was 17.

They both attended Academy of Mount Saint Ursula in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx. Rae agreed to meet me at the school’s Thanksgiving dance on Nov. 23.

On the appointed night, I climbed a slight hill up from the Grand Concourse and saw Rae for the first time. She was angelic. I immediately had two simultaneous thoughts: This was the girl I would marry, and I’m not ready to settle down.

We hit it off but I was still torn. After the dance I walked her home to East 205th Street, a few blocks from the school.

She asked how I was getting home. I said I’d take a subway to 125th Street in Manhattan and then transfer uptown on the Pelham Bay line. It would take an hour to get home to Croes Avenue. Rae then pulled out a $5 bill, “emergency” money her mother had given her, and gave it to me for a cab.

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I didn’t see Rae for a year while I sowed my wild oats, but I couldn’t get her out of my mind.

In 1967, we reconnected, through Tom and Sue, and started dating. Rae had received a full scholarship to Bellevue School of Nursing in Manhattan and was living on campus. I attended St. John’s University in Queens.

I’d visit her at school, which involved long, late-night subway rides, but I didn’t mind because I was in love.

Two years later, Rae transferred to Misericordia School of Nursing in the Bronx. We’d see movies at the Loew’s Paradise on Fordham Road and go to Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor or visit Poe Park. We had our own rock at the New York Botanical Garden, where we’d picnic and hold hands. I graduated from St. John’s in June 1970 with a degree in European history.

On May 29, 1971, we were married at St. Philip Neri Church in Bedford Park. Rae graduated a month later and we went to Bermuda for our honeymoon.

In 1977, we moved to Bellmore. We have been blessed with five children and eight grandchildren. Rae is truly an amazing wife and mother.

She was an oncology nurse from 1991-2006 at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, then worked at a nursing home until she retired in 2013. I retired in 2011 after many years in the marine insurance business.

It was love at first sight for me, and the $5 gift to an unknown boy showed me Rae was a loving, caring person whom I wanted to spend my life with. I don’t think I ever repaid her!

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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