Bill and Margaret "Peg" Burney of Port Jefferson Station celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary this month. Bill recalls their courtship.
I met this gorgeous gal on a spring day in 1939. I was playing stickball in the street with my friends. Peg and I lived in Manhattan and had both attended St. Paul the Apostle elementary school on Columbus Avenue and West 60th Street.
Peg, 16, was a sophomore at Wadleigh High School for Girls. I was 17 and had just graduated from the High School of Commerce. Although I had seen her numerous times in our neighborhood, this time I got up enough courage to ask her to the movies. She said yes, and that began my journey to a long, loving life with this wonderful person.
We lived near Central Park, where we'd often take long walks together or rent bicycles and ride through the park. Dances were held every week in the summer at a bandstand on the edge of Sheep Meadow, and we'd listen to live bands. It was a wonderful time to grow up in the city.
In January 1943, I was drafted into the Army. Before I left for England, I asked Peg's mother for permission to marry her daughter. I had a lot of respect for her parents, and when my future mother-in-law suggested we wait until I returned, I went along with her wishes.
I was assigned to the 465th company, 53rd Battalion. We followed the Third Army through France and Germany, replenishing supplies and processing the troops. Peg was working as a secretary for an insurance firm in Manhattan. We wrote to each other every week until I came home in December 1945. Five months later, on May 4, 1946, we were married at St. Paul the Apostle Church. Peg became a full-time homemaker. We raised six great children whom we love very much, and now have 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
In 1958, we moved to Smithtown. Peg was an original member of the Forestwood Ladies Bowling League, which was organized in 1970. She bowled with the league at the AMF Smithtown Lanes until this past year. I retired in 2004 as a salesman with Kaman Industrial Transmission in Hauppauge. I continued playing stickball with a team in the Bronx and then in Sunnyside, Queens, until 2004. (In 1989, I was inducted into the Stickball Hall of Fame.) Peg and I go on dates to the movies or out to dinner, and drop by to visit our children and grandchildren.
We recently celebrated our 68th anniversary with our family at Butera's Restaurant in Smithtown. My wife is my lover, my friend, my right arm. I depend on her, and she is always there. I could not get by without her. She has my undying love forever.