Benjamin Vecchio of Deer Park recalls his high school courting of his future wife, Regina.
In the summer of 1942, I got a job with Deer Park Coal and Ice Co. I was helping out with a delivery, loading ice into a big icebox on the porch of a house, when I noticed a pretty young girl playing with a friend on the lawn.
I saw that pretty girl again in 1943 on the Dix Hills school bus. "Who is that girl?" I asked a friend. He told me her name was Regina. She was an eighth grader at Toaz Junior High in Huntington Station, and I was a sophomore at Huntington High. Her big brother was also on the bus, so I admired her from afar until she started high school the next year. It took about two months before I asked Regina for a movie date. She accepted.
I had to walk three miles to Regina's house. We walked another half-mile to catch the bus to the Babylon movie theater - I worked there as an usher - and by the time I got back home from the date, I had walked about 10 miles. I didn't ask Regina out again, but we did sit together on the school bus and we would see each other at local dances.
The next year I started driving and bought a 1933 Pontiac for $35. We drove to school together from then on, and we started going steady.
After I graduated in January 1946, I volunteered for the Army Engineering Corps. Regina and I became engaged before I left for basic training at Fort Belvoir, Va. My father was kind enough to buy Regina's engagement ring because I didn't have enough money. We went to Manhattan's diamond district to pick it out.
I was sent overseas to Korea for occupational duty and served in the medical corps. I was discharged in 1948 and started classes at the state university in Farmingdale in the building construction curriculum. Regina was working as a secretary at Holden and Quick Shoe Co., and I'd drive her to the train station in the morning before going to class.
Regina and I were married on Sept. 4, 1949, in Saints Cyril & Methodius church in Deer Park, and we honeymooned in Washington, D.C. We have two children and six grandchildren.
Last year we celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary with a luncheon at the Watermill in Smithtown with family and friends. This has been a love story for the ages.
Regina retired in 1993 as an office manager with Interstate United Food at the AIL facility in Deer Park. I worked as a charter pilot, then as general manager, with Mid-Island Air Service at Long Island Mac Arthur Airport until 1992. I continued working as a construction consultant with Ford of Sayville and as a tax preparer for H&R Block. I now do tax returns as an AARP volunteer.