Barbara Donahue of East Moriches recalls meeting future husband, Paul, at a special family gathering.
Our love story started in 1949 at a clam boil at my sister’s fiance’s family home in Somerset, Massachusetts. This was the official meeting of the Wasmuth and Donahue families. We lived in St. Albans, Queens.
I was 12 years old. My soon-to-be brother-in-law’s 15-year-old brother, Paul, was there. I had already been told by my sister that there was a nice young fellow in the family who I might like. She couldn’t have been more right.
My sister and brother-in-law married in 1950 and moved to Levittown a year later. Paul, now 16, began staying with the newlyweds during summer break while he worked at a construction company on Long Island.
We spent those summers first getting acquainted and then courting. We enjoyed going roller skating at Jones Beach and baby-sitting our nephews.
Paul graduated high school in 1953 and found employment at H.O. Penn Machinery in Westbury as a mechanic on Caterpillar construction equipment. I graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in Cambria Heights, Queens, in 1955 and started working as a reservations clerk with Eastern Airlines in Manhattan.
In 1954, Paul was about to be drafted and so he enlisted in the Air Force. He was first stationed in Wyoming and was able to come home on leave a few times. We planned to marry once he knew where he would be stationed overseas.
We got engaged at the Milleridge Inn in Jericho in 1956 before he left for Neubiberg Air Base in Munich, Germany, where he would serve as a bulldozer mechanic.
In 1957, I readied for my flight to meet Paul in Germany, which was courtesy of my Eastern Airlines flight privileges. I clearly remember the ride to the airport. The car was packed with various members of my family to see me off, along with our neighbor, who was literally finishing up the last stitches of my wedding dress.
A mix-up in paperwork delayed our wedding for a month. I lived in the apartment we were renting while Paul lived on base 2 miles away. We were married on June 1, 1957.
Paul and I made the most of our adventure while living in the beautiful countryside of southern Germany. We explored the Bavarian Alps, attended an Oktoberfest and loved every minute of our time there. We’ve been back three times since.
In 1958, we returned to the States and, after a brief stint at Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Florida, Paul finished his military service, and we came home to New York. We moved to Center Moriches in 1960.
We then moved to East Moriches in 1970, where we happily raised six children — five sons and one daughter — in a community more like Paul’s childhood town of Somerset than my hometown of St. Albans. We have 10 grandchildren, are active volunteers at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Center Moriches and have been doing a Meals on Wheels route for 30 years.
In June, we celebrated our 60th anniversary with family at the Sea Cove Restaurant in Center Moriches. Paul and I still have a large backyard clam boil every summer with the expanded Wasmuth and Donahue families in attendance.
— With Virginia Dunleavy