Kathy and Gilbert "Allen" Visbal of Wantagh, once teenage sweethearts, were reunited more than three decades later. Kathy tells how it all happened.
In October 1966, I was a 13-year-old student at Wantagh Junior High School. One Friday evening, my friends and I went to the school's Teen Center, where students could play games, listen to a live band and mingle. It was there that I met Allen. We were both in eighth grade. Allen had moved to Wantagh from Manhattan when he was in sixth grade.
We began dating. Since we were so young, our "dates" consisted of hanging out with friends. We'd attend school dances or go ice skating in the winter at Mill Pond on Merrick Road or head to Jones Beach in the summer. In 1968, when we were both 15, I was a bridesmaid and he was a groomsman at his sister's wedding. We dated on and off until we graduated from Wantagh High School in 1971, and then went our separate ways.
Allen joined the Air Force, serving from 1971-84, including four years in the active reserves, the security police and as a law enforcement specialist. He was stationed in Korea, then stateside, including posts in Alaska and Florida. I worked as a secretary with Chase Manhattan Bank in Manhattan. We did see each other again, briefly, in 1977, when we were both 24.
Over the years, Allen kept in touch sporadically through letters and eventually via email. We both married twice. Allen has two sons and four grandchildren, and I have a daughter. In May 2008, Allen retired from the Miami-Dade Police Department after 26 years on the force and moved to a mountain cabin in Georgia. Our emails became more frequent, which then led to telephone calls.
In 2009, Allen phoned to say he was coming to New York in May to visit his cousin in Deer Park. He asked me to stop by and see him. On the day of our reunion I was both excited and very nervous. When Allen answered the door, he looked different from my memory of him, but he still had the same warm smile and kind brown eyes I remembered. We talked for a while and then went for a drive, stopping at our old high school, Mill Pond and Wantagh Park, where we had our first kiss so long ago. We seemed to connect on every level. I felt very comfortable with Allen, as I always had.
That July, I accompanied him to his family reunion in Georgia, and we fell in love all over again. When Allen asked me to marry him that summer, I happily said yes. We were married Aug. 22, 2009, at the cabin, surrounded by family and friends. Allen moved back to Long Island.
I am an executive assistant at AHRC Suffolk in Bohemia. We live in Wantagh, where it all began for us, but we enjoy frequent getaways to the cabin in Georgia.