Bob Culotta recalls meeting his future wife, Marlene.
In 1954, I graduated from Richmond Hill High School in Queens and was drafted into the U.S. Army. While in basic training, I developed pneumonia and never made it to Italy with my original company. Instead I served as an honor guard at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., and was discharged in 1956.
I came home to Richmond Hill and met Marlene. She was 18, and I was 20. Her last name then was Monaco. We lived in the same town, knew the same people and went to the same church. Having mutual friends made it easy for us to spend time together.
Before long, I asked her out, and we have been inseparable since. My wife was and is a beautiful woman with a super personality. I knew I wanted her to be my wife. We dated a short time and got married Sept. 12, 1959, at Our Lady of the Cenacle in Richmond Hill. We had a very nice reception at the New Hyde Park Inn with family and friends.
Marlene was a secretary for Railway Express in Long Island City, and I worked at New York Telephone Co., where I started as a storeman.
A year later, in 1960, we had our first child, Bobby. Three years later our daughter Carolyn joined us. With our family growing, we decided to buy a house in Syosset. In 1967 our youngest child, Lorraine, was born. I came home from work one day and Marlene told me she put our house on the market, saying, "We need a bigger house." I totally disagreed, but she was insistent. We moved to a bigger house in Plainview where we still live today.
Marlene was a stay-at-home mom for many years until she became a part-time service representative at Geico. She worked there for 17 years, until our first grandchild was born. I enjoyed playing softball with friends in a senior league for more than 20 years.
In 1994, we both became caretakers for our granddaughter, Lauren. Over the years, we were blessed with four more beautiful grandchildren: Kyle, Danielle, Kevin and our angel in heaven, Alex.
I retired from the phone company as a service foreman after 35 years and got a chance to really enjoy our grandkids. Marlene and I were daily babysitters for all the grandkids, and we loved it. We took them everywhere and they became very close to their Papa and Grandma.
We are both simple people who always enjoy socializing with our neighbors, friends and family. Our get-togethers and favorite pastimes usually involve gambling in one way or another. Whether it was playing bingo or mah-jongg, visiting a racetrack or going to the casinos in Connecticut, we always enjoyed ourselves.
I'm proud to say that our children are college graduates with professional jobs in health care. The grandchildren also are going to college or working full-time already. No great-grandchildren yet, but we are hopeful.
I can't imagine my life if I hadn't met and fallen in love with Marlene. On Sept. 12, 2019, we celebrated our 60th anniversary. We are very fortunate to have a happy marriage and a wonderful life. Our love and devotion to each other has not changed throughout the years. Our relationship has been blessed with love and laughter, and I sure am grateful to God for all of it. Amen!
— With Ann Donahue-Smukler
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