Angelo Rum of Huntington talks about meeting his wife, Joyce (Sona).
It was Halloween 1944. I was 14 and living with my family in Newark, New Jersey. The doorbell rang. When I opened the door, standing there was a girl dressed as a boy and a boy dressed as a girl. Her name was Joyce. She was 11 and the cutest "boy" I had ever seen. She was with her brother. Turns out they lived only a half-block away.
Despite the proximity, it would be two years before I saw her again. This time I was ringing her bell. My Uncle Aldo rented a garage spot in her backyard and sent me over to pay the rent. When the door opened, there she was, but she quickly vanished. Years later Joyce told me she decided that day I would be the one she would marry.
She became best friends with my cousin Lucy and, therefore, I would see Joyce periodically over the years.
When I was 21, the Korean War broke out. I was drafted into the Army. During basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey, I went home on weekend passes. A lot of neighborhood friends would go out in groups. Joyce was sometimes among them, and I was always hoping I’d see her.
Once, I drove home for the weekend in a raging blizzard. The snow was piling high, but I plowed through. Newark was a ghost town. I made it home safely and while walking up the front steps, a snowball from nowhere hit me in the head. I didn’t see anyone, but I heard muffled laughter from behind a fortlike snowdrift. It was Joyce.
When I saw her, she got up and ran. I gave chase and when I caught her, I planted her headfirst into a snow mound. There was no door involved, but she had definitely rung my bell! Later she said she knew I’d be the only nut to drive home during a blizzard and had waited in anticipation. For the rest of my time in the service, we exchanged letters and got together in groups a few times.
Our time was cut short when I was sent to Japan. With one letter, Joyce sent a picture of her new haircut combed into a "D.A." I didn’t like it and wrote that she looked like her brother. Dumb move. She didn’t write for three months. When she resumed writing, she didn’t mention my faux pas, but I’m sure she talked about it back home because my ears were ringing.
During a homecoming party for me in 1953, the doorbell rang. There she was. Not as a boy but as a beautiful vision. She threw her arms around me and kissed me. We eventually starting dating and, hearing bells once again, got engaged. But Joyce was only 20, got cold feet and broke our engagement on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, it was brief, and we started making wedding plans.
For unknown reasons, my mother was against my marrying Joyce. She threatened to jump out the window. I wasn’t concerned; we lived on the first floor. Joyce and I married on May 21, 1955, at Holy Rosary Church in Newark. My mother attended.
Work as an engineer at Telephonics brought us to Long Island, and in 1965 we settled in Huntington. We have been blessed with four wonderful children, seven really grand grandchildren and one terrific great-granddaughter. Our 65-year marriage is still going strong. Joyce is my best friend, the one I always want with me.
In retrospect, it’s obvious that bells are our lucky charms. After all, she tolled my bell many times.
— With Ann Donahue-Smukler
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