Patricia "Patty" Kraus of Lindenhurst recalls a chance meeting with future husband Lee and their very short courtship.
I was 18 and had finished my freshman year at Pace University in Manhattan in 1959, when I began a summer job at Security National Bank in West Babylon. Since I didn't know if I'd return to college, my manager suggested I take some banking classes held at West Babylon High School. The bank paid the tuition and I signed up that fall.
After the second class, another student, Lee Kraus, came over and introduced himself. I was Patty Matassa back then. He, too, worked for Security National Bank, at the branch in my Lindenhurst neighborhood. Lee, 22, lived in Brentwood. He offered to drive me home that night, and when he dropped me off he asked for a date. I said yes.
Lee picked me up for the date, and I was about to introduce my mother when she yelled, "Oh, it's Sad Sack!" Lee recognized her, too. She and some of her co-workers would show up at his bank on Friday nights about five minutes before closing. They purposely got on his line to cash their checks and pay bills just to see the annoyed look on his face. He and my mother had a good laugh about it.
On that first date, we went to Howard Johnson's Restaurant in West Babylon, where we dined on fried clams for $1.99. We continued dating, I quit college and on New Year's Eve accepted Lee's marriage proposal. He later told me that when he first saw me in class, he told another classmate, "I'm going to marry that girl!"
On March 5, 1960, two months after getting engaged, we were married during a huge nor'easter snowstorm. On top of that, Lee had pneumonia. All our guests managed to get to the ceremony and then to the reception at Ciro's in Islip. The next day, we drove to Boston to see Lee's grandmother, who couldn't be at the wedding.
Now that Lee and I are retired, we enjoy vacationing and have a standing date to go out for breakfast together on Friday mornings. What makes us happiest is our traditional Sunday dinners at our home with our three daughters, sons-in-law and four grandchildren.
For our 25th anniversary in 1985, we went to Hawaii. We ran into actor Tom Selleck, and I wouldn't let go of his waist until he agreed to have a photo taken with me. Our 50th anniversary in 2010 was spent in Turks and Caicos with our family. We will celebrate our 55th anniversary with a trip to the Bahamas. We are still as in love as the first day we met. For us, a short engagement and love at first glance was worth the chance.