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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Pamela Franco was crowned Seaford High School homecoming queen this year on Sept. 24. Sporting a cheerleading uniform and clutching a bouquet of flowers, she was all smiles while posing for photos on the football field. Very few people could relate to this moment, but one person in the excited crowd could: Judy Andrews.
In 1962, that tiara was hers.
Andrews -- known then as Judy Soltan -- reigned as Seaford High School’s homecoming queen more than five decades ago. Yet, she remembers details from the event as if it were yesterday, right down to which team Seaford faced at the football game.
“The day before was the pep rally, and they had a big bonfire," Andrews said. "That day they had the parade and we played Wantagh High School; that was our rival. At night they had a dance and the football game. We rode in a car; I think it was driven by one of the guidance counselors. It was a convertible and we sat on top.”
Andrews was a cheerleader, a member of the student council, and served as president of her class in 10th grade. This was an achievement: She said most of the students elected class president at that time were boys.
Andrews graduated in June 1963 and got married the following September. She’s been with her high school sweetheart, Larry Andrews, ever since. They have two daughters, a son, and six grandchildren.
Andrews mostly stayed at home and worked a few office jobs while raising her family, but ultimately saw herself as an educator. Working with children is her passion, so at age 50, she made the decision to go back to school.
At Nassau Community College, Andrews' days were jam-packed: she worked from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Faculty-Student Association, and attended classes afterward. She earned her associate’s degree in two and a half years, which gave her a chance to work in the school system.
“I love the school environment,” she said. “I worked [as a secretary] for the assistant principal [at Harry B. Thompson Middle School] in Syosset. That was my goal then. I felt I was too old to be a teacher at that point but I just love working with the kids. I loved it there. It was very rewarding, and I miss it.”
After 13 years, Andrews retired. She still lives in the house where she grew up in Seaford, and goes to the homecoming festivities almost every year.
If she could give some advice to these students--or perhaps to herself at their age -- it’d be simple.
“I would say to follow your dream,” she said. “I went to college when I was 50 so I ended up doing it a little backwards. Today I know it’s kind of opposite, they get everything done first with college and all that, and have children later. But I would just say to follow your dream. Pursue in life what makes you happy.”
Andrews chuckled a bit after reflecting on her homecoming days.
“I’m very happy with everything, the way it all worked out,” she said. “I usually don’t like talking about myself but maybe I [wanted to talk about it] for my grandchildren so they can see what I did, way back then.”