Andrea Van Pelt of Lake Grove recalls the first times she saw future husband Everett and how that led to resolving a women's equality issue.
In the summer of 1963, I began noticing a handsome young man walk by my house in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Every day he'd head in the same direction, toward the 716 Club, a new men's organization located nearby on Seventh Avenue and 16th Street. I would peek out my window to catch a glimpse of him. He wore white, Navy-uniform bell-bottom pants and had a walk to die for.
My girlfriends and I were already curious about the club and so I suggested we stop by to investigate. I was also hoping to meet the handsome young man. The guys at the club were from the neighborhood. They told us they owned the building and had renovated it themselves. There was a pool table, games, a TV, dance floor and a beautifully tiled bar.
I spotted Everett and said, "I'm Andrea Calabrese. I live around the corner." He also grew up in the neighborhood but we had never met. He had been living in Florida but recently moved back to Park Slope. He was 22 and I was 19.
We girls began telling the guys they should induct women as members. They listened and, by October, the 716 Club was co-ed. I became a member and attended the Christmas and New Year's Eve parties where Everett and I got to know more about each other. He had served in the Navy from 1959 to 1962 as quartermaster aboard the destroyer USS Murray DDE-576. His ship was deployed during the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba, in 1961. In February 1964, we began dating. We became engaged that June and married six months later, on Dec. 5, 1964, at St. John the Evangelist Church in Park Slope.
Besides our meeting each other, we have many wonderful memories of the club, including the annual family trips to Suntan Lake, New Jersey, Christmas parties for the neighborhood children, bridal and baby showers and a cruise to Bermuda one year. Over the years, 25 other couples from the club got married. Everett and I were members until 1973, the year we moved to Michigan. We lived there for three years, then returned to New York in 1977 and bought our house in Lake Grove. The 716 Club disbanded in the early 1980s but we are still in touch with some of the former members and their families.
Everett owns VIP International Export Inc., exporting spare parts for automobiles and industrial equipment. I retired in 2008 as a secretary with Liberty Mutual in Islandia. We have two children -- our third child passed away at age 6 from biliary atresia liver disease -- and four grandchildren. We also have a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law whom we consider our children. Our family took us into Manhattan to celebrate our 50th anniversary over dinner at Benihana. We're hoping to have a party with family and friends in the near future.