Editor's Note: Newsday.com is catching up with former Long Island homecoming kings and queens to reflect on being named royalty and see what they're up to now. If you're a former Long Island high school homecoming king or queen and would like to participate, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lori Ann Messino is a district supervisor for the Islip Terrace Fire District. As she reflected on her reign as East Islip High School homecoming queen of 1982, her co-workers were all ears.
"My office finds this very funny," she said with a giggle during a phone interview. "They’re all making fun of me -- if I want to relive my wonderful years, I’m allowed!"
Messino -- known then as Lori Ann Zullo -- was surprised to earn the royal title. She had some stiff competition: Carol Rizzo, the daughter of a Suffolk County legislator; and Stacy Walton, the daughter of then New York Jets offensive coordinator Joe Walton, who would become head coach the next year.
Messino didn't think she stood a chance, and credits her victory to a diverse group of friends. The varsity cheerleader often found herself palling around with students from various cliques.
"[Homecoming] was a big deal," Messino said. "They had a dance and introduced us like when you go to a wedding and bridesmaids put hands together for the bride to walk through."
After high school, Messino earned a degree from Farmingdale State College, and during her time there became proficient in the largely lost art of Gregg shorthand, which she credits in part for her landing the Islip Terrace Fire District job two years.
Messino still lives in East Islip and raised two sons: Alex, age 19, and Anthony, who is 24-years-old. She has been married to her husband Gary for nearly three decades.
While she stayed local for her college education, she encouraged Alex to go away, and wishes she had done the same. She strives to teach her sons everything that isn't taught in high school.
"Any stupid decision you make at 19 years old, you don't think it's a big deal, but at 23 or 24, it comes back to bite you in the you-know-where," Messino said with a laugh.