Frank and Anita Bowers of Wantagh celebrated their 50th anniversary...

Frank and Anita Bowers of Wantagh celebrated their 50th anniversary on April 12, 2014. Credit: Bowers family

Frank Bowers of Wantagh recalls an impromptu first date with his future wife, Anita.

I was waiting for the Sixth Avenue F train in Manhattan late one evening in 1962 when I noticed two girls, one a dark-haired beauty, who were speaking a very strange language. At that point, the train rolled in and I sat across from them in the same car.

Fifteen minutes later, the train chugged into my stop at the 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue station in Jackson Heights, Queens. The pretty girl, now by herself, got off the train and I followed her to the escalator. Once outside we walked in the same direction. I caught up with her two blocks later and was feeling so good I asked if she'd like to join me for a midnight snack at the Chinese restaurant on the corner -- if she'd tell me what language she was speaking. She said it was Yugoslavian and promptly agreed to go to the restaurant. She felt safe since it was close to her home.

Her name was Annette, she said, but after a nice chicken dish and funny conversation, she admitted her name was really Anita. She came to the United States with her family from Pula, Yugoslavia, in 1955. I was 25 and she was 22.

I walked her home, where her mother, not surprisingly, slammed the door in my face after she pulled her daughter to safety -- but not before Anita chirped out her phone number and said, "Thanks for the dinner."

I called and made plans to meet her for coffee the next night. When I picked her up, her older brother and sister gave her wary parents the OK after talking to me.

We saw a lot of each other, going to many Broadway shows, then taking the F train home together on many nights. One night I took Anita to Sardi's restaurant. We were sitting at a good table near the front when Bert Parks, the longtime host of the Miss America contest, passed by and, looking at Anita, asked his dinner companion, "What state is she from?"

Anita and I were married on April 12, 1964. We are blessed with two sons and four grandchildren.

As the years moved on, Anita and I packed our bags and moved in the other direction Horace Greeley recommended -- from Manhattan to Jackson Heights to Valley Stream and finally Wantagh in 2003.

Anita, an officer with Intesa Italian Bank on Wall Street, retired in 2004. She also taught Italian at Adelphi University in Garden City as an adjunct professor and hosted a campus radio show called "Chiaro Scuro." I retired in 1992 as head of special-interest publications at CMP Publications in Manhasset. I am a writer and have authored several books.

We celebrated our 50th anniversary this year with our family at Il Felice restaurant in Seaford.

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