Irene “Rene” and Bill Boyce of Levittown didn’t get off on the right foot when they met. Bill explains.
In November 1951, I met my future wife, Rene O’Connell. I was 17 and she was 15. Her brother Jack, a friend of mine, invited me and a few other guys to Rene’s party, without telling her, at their home in Cambria Heights, Queens. I lived in St. Albans.
We showed up with a superior attitude, ignoring the younger kids there. At one point Rene divided the room with a line of chairs and said, “Since you won’t talk or dance with us, stay on this side.” Later, when I walked to the “other” side on my way to the bathroom, she stopped me and asked, “Where do you think you’re going?” I told her and pushed past her. The fact that she stood up to me made her very attractive. I liked her.
It took a while, but I finally asked her on a date in January 1952. We went into Manhattan to see the film “Quo Vadis” and continued dating. Rene was a student at Dominican Commercial High School in Jamaica. That June we went to my senior prom at Andrew Jackson High School.
In January 1953 I enlisted in the Air Force. We wrote to each other while I was away. I really missed Rene and knew I was in love with her.
We looked at engagement rings when I came home on leave at Christmas, but her mother said Rene was too young to get engaged, so we waited. I was assigned to Bryan Air Force Base in Texas with the 3530th Flight Line Maintenance Squadron and served as an aircraft mechanic.
Our courtship was kept alive through our letters, and on Rene’s 18th birthday in July 1954 we got engaged.
On June 4, 1955, we exchanged vows at Sacred Heart Church in Cambria Heights. After a short honeymoon we drove to Texas, where we had a small apartment off base.
When my military service ended in 1957, we returned to New York and, in 1961, bought our house in Levittown. We had six children, but an infant daughter passed away. We now have 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Rene was an Avon lady from 1969 to 2009 and had clients from two generations of the same families. I was a New York City police officer for 20 years and was working with the 69th Precinct’s detective squad in Canarsie, Brooklyn, when I left the force in 1979. I then worked as a private investigator until retiring in 2010.
We recently celebrated our 61st anniversary with a trip to Cape Cod. Rene and I met at a young age, fell in love and have been blessed with a terrific family. It has been a great life with a wonderful wife. God bless her.
— With Virginia Dunleavy