Kathleen and Ray Schmalz of Aquebogue as seen in a...

Kathleen and Ray Schmalz of Aquebogue as seen in a recent photo. Credit: Handout

Kathleen Schmalz of Aquebogue recalls growing up in Centereach with her future husband, Ray.


My family lived in St. Albans, Queens, but spent the summers at a little cabin in Centereach that my parents had owned since the 1940s. When Ray was 7, his family, which was originally from Ridgewood, Queens, moved a few houses down from us in Centereach.

Back then, in the early 1950s, Centereach was a small country town, and as children we actually rode our bikes on what is now Route 25, Jericho Turnpike. There was one grocery store and a gas station in town. Families shopped at Swezey's department store in Patchogue.

In 1952, my parents built a larger home on the property, and we moved there permanently. Two years later, Ray and I started our freshman year at Port Jefferson High School, the only high school in the area. Our lunch hours were spent dancing the Lindy in the auditorium.

Ray and I dated off and on, going to the movies, church dances or to West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook, but we went to the senior prom with other dates.

After graduation in 1958, Ray joined the Army, and I pursued my goal of becoming a registered nurse. By then, we realized we were in love and wrote to one another every day. When Ray was assigned to Frankfurt, Germany, for two years, we got engaged and decided to have the wedding there. Our plans changed when I was involved in a serious car accident and faced a long recovery.

Ray came home on a three-week emergency leave. I wore a full body cast for eight months. I was just graduating nursing school, and by the time the State Board licensing exams came around, I was in a leg cast. Despite advice to wait until I was completely healed, I took the three-day test at the Manhattan Armory in November 1961 and passed.

Ray finished his service in February 1962. My leg cast came off about the same time. True love prevailed, and we were married March 25 at the Church of the Assumption in Centereach. We planned the whole wedding in one month's time -- invitations, gown and all!

We both retired in 2000. Ray was a supervisor with Chase Bank and now has a part-time job. I worked as a registered nurse at several area hospitals, including St. Charles in Port Jefferson. I also taught at BOCES.

We have two children and four granddaughters whom we adore. We have enjoyed many trips, especially a Caribbean cruise on the Queen Mary 2 to celebrate our many years together. Though we have experienced many challenges during our marriage, all in all it has been a mighty wonderful adventure.

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