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Love Story: He helped her find what she was looking for at the A&P

Joan and Dick Doster of Wantagh celebrated their

Joan and Dick Doster of Wantagh celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in May. Photo Credit: Doster Family

Joan Doster of Wantagh recalls the day she met her future husband, Dick.

I love telling my story to friends. Our story starts in 1955. Dick was working at the local A&P grocery store in Flushing, Queens, where I would go shopping for my mom.  

One day while I was on his checkout line, I was holding an envelope that I planned to mail. When Dick said, “Hi Joan,” I looked at him in surprise. He explained he saw my name, Joan Krakenberg, on the return address on the envelope. That was our first encounter.

I continued shopping at the A&P without further contact with Dick until a couple of months later. I happened to be looking for pink lemonade and couldn’t find it. Dick suddenly came out from the back of the store and asked if he could help me. I told him what I was looking for and he found a can in the back of the freezer. He said, “If you need me I’ll be on the other side of the store.”  

I, being a shy person, couldn’t believe what happened next. I took him up on his offer and found him. I said something like I couldn’t find the butter.

We began talking, and I learned this was his last day at the store. He was starting a new job with the phone company. I, too, was starting a job that week at New York Life in Manhattan. We were both 18 years old. I had recently graduated from Bayside High School. Dick lived in Fresh Meadows and had graduated the year before from the school now known as Queens Technical High School.

He then asked me for a date. We went out a few days later and continued seeing each other. We’d go to the beach or bowling or to the movies. Sometimes we’d stay home and watch “The Red Skelton Show,” Dick’s favorite television program.

On Christmas Eve, just four months after we met, we became engaged. We said our “I do’s” on May 24, 1958, and honeymooned at Niagara Falls then drove through New England. In 1961, we welcomed our daughter, the light of our lives, into the world.

Six months later we found ourselves living in a trailer near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Dick, a communications sergeant with the 310th Military Police Battalion in the Army Reserve, was called up because of mounting tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union around the closing of the Berlin Wall in Germany. There was a possibility he would be deployed to Germany. Thank goodness it didn’t happen, and we returned home nine months later.

After 37 years, Dick retired in 1991 as a lineman for NYNEX in Manhattan. He became a life member of the Telephone Pioneers of America in 1996. He has served as president of our Pioneer's Sagamore Club in Bethpage for the past 10 years. Dick was named Nassau County Senior Citizen of the Year in 2003 for his volunteer work. As his spouse, I also joined the organization and was named a Pioneer Partner for my volunteer efforts in 2009. In 2010, Dick was enrolled in the Pioneer Hall of Fame, the group's highest honor.

I retired in 2014 as a sales associate from New York and Co., formerly Lerner’s, at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville. I have been bowling for the past 47 years and belong to a mixed league called Leisure Timers. 

In addition to our daughter, we have a son-in-law and three grandchildren.

This May we celebrated 60 happy years together. If I hadn’t taken him up on his offer that day in the A&P we would not have had this wonderful life together. It was meant to be.

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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