Georgie and Gene Orlando of Franklin Square celebrated their 50th...

Georgie and Gene Orlando of Franklin Square celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on April 4, 2014. Credit: Orlando family

Gene Orlando of Franklin Square recalls how a pair of movie tickets brought him and his wife, Georgie, together.

My good friend and I were business partners of Long's Ice Cream Parlor and luncheonette on Fulton Street in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, in 1962. A woman named Flo worked nearby and had lunch at our counter every day. I got to know her pretty well. She told me her sisters lived in the neighborhood and belonged to a weekly bowling league at the Lucky Strike Lanes down the block. She suggested I join so I could meet others who lived in the neighborhood. I thought it might be good for business. That September, I got my father and brother to join my team.

We met Flo's sisters -- Shirley, 36, and Georgie, 25 -- who were on another team and were both single. I was 22 and lived in Ozone Park, Queens. Every so often, Shirley would ask me to drive Georgie home. I did and we'd sit in my car for a few minutes and talk before she went inside. I was dating another girl at the time and didn't realize Shirley was trying to play matchmaker.

That January, my girlfriend suggested we see the movie "Cleopatra," starring Elizabeth Taylor, which would be premiering that June at the Rivoli Theatre in Manhattan. I bought two tickets in advance for July 4. They were more expensive than the usual movie tickets.

In May 1963, the league ended and I broke up with my girlfriend. I now had two movie tickets and no date. I asked several girls if they wanted to see the movie, but they all had plans. A few days before the show, I mentioned the tickets to a boy who lived next door to the luncheonette. He said, "Ask the girl from the bowling league." I never thought of Georgie as the type of girl I would date. But I didn't want to waste the tickets.

I called her at work; she was a switchboard operator at Home Insurance Co. in Manhattan. After apologizing for the short notice, I asked if she'd like to go to the movie. Boy, was I relieved when she said, "OK."

We went to the show and then dinner. I asked her out again the next day, and a month later we were engaged. We married on April 4, 1964, and spent our honeymoon in the Pocono Gardens Lodge in Pennsylvania.

We have three children and five grandchildren; a sixth grandchild is deceased. Georgie is a full-time homemaker and enjoys crocheting and craft projects. I sold the luncheonette in 1964. In 1994, I retired as a property manager with NYNEX. I also belong to the Single Action Shooters Society (SASS), a target shooting group based on Old West characters.

For our 50th anniversary, we invited family and friends to dinner at Mio Posto Ristorante in Hicksville. Our children treated us to a holiday at the Carriage House at Pocono Manor. Looking back, calling Georgie for that movie date was the best decision I ever made.

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