Walda Corazón of North Bellmore recalls the day she met her future husband, Vincent.
In the great melting pot that was the South Bronx after World War II, a 14-year-old Italian-American girl met a 17-year-old Puerto Rican boy at an Irish party given by a Jewish friend. It’s a story I’ve told many times. But no matter how old I get, retelling it always makes me feel young again.
I was born Jesuwalda Cannone. In 1948, I was a sophomore at James Monroe High School in the Soundview section of the Bronx. One Saturday in early March, my girlfriends went to Madison Square Garden to watch our school’s track team compete. They met some nice guys on the team including one cute boy they thought I’d like, a senior named Vincent Corazón.
The next week, I went to “the Garden,” but Vinny wasn’t there because he’d injured his ankle. To get us together, my girlfriend threw a St. Patrick’s Day party on March 20 and invited the entire track team. When Vinny arrived, I walked right up to him and said, “Well I finally get to meet you!” I felt the chemistry between us right away. We had our first dance, our first kiss, and from that day on we were high school sweethearts. I found it incredibly romantic that his last name, Corazón, is the Spanish word for heart!
Vinny graduated from high school that year and attended New York University to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher. I graduated in 1951 and worked as a teletypist for New York Telephone Co. in Manhattan.
In 1952, Vinny graduated from NYU and was drafted into the Army. Months later, we got engaged, and on July 5, 1953, we were married. He was assigned to Fort Miles in Lewes, Delaware, serving as a physical training instructor. We rented a little cottage near the ocean and began our lives together.
Vinny finished his military service in 1954, and we returned to the Bronx. We started our family and had three children. Vinny taught classes in Spanish, science, health and physical education at high schools in the Bronx and in Queens. He received his master’s degree in biology from Columbia University in 1957 and a professional degree in administration and supervision from Fordham University.
In 1961, we had finally saved enough money to buy our own home, settling in North Bellmore. Summers were spent at Camp Greylock for Girls on Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks, where Vinny was the waterfront director. There, we enjoyed many outdoor activities and gained an appreciation for nature.
In 1971, the camp closed and we bought a piece of camp property, where we built our summer home. That same year, Vinny became the principal of Clark Junior High School 149 in Mott Haven in the Bronx, a school he had attended as a boy. I began working as a secretary in Nassau Community College’s Nursing Department in Garden City. We both retired in 1988.
We’ve had an exciting life together and have shared many adventures. We skied from our 40s to our 80s. In our 50s, we crewed aboard a 40-foot sailboat from New York to Florida. Our 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries were celebrated in the Dominican Republic, scuba diving with our entire family. We now have two grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Last month, we marked our 65th anniversary with a family dinner cruise on Raquette Lake. We may be on in years, but we are forever young at heart.