Bob Coiro of Sound Beach recalls when he fell in love with his future wife, Peggy.
It’s hard for me to say what I felt when I first laid eyes on Peggy Nagel in 1946. You see, I was 2 years old and she was 3. She was the firstborn of five and I was the firstborn of seven.
Our fathers both served in the military during World War II. We were living in an apartment building in the Bronx and still have a picture from 1947 of the two of us sitting on the stoop.
The following year, my family moved and we eventually settled in Lindenhurst. Peggy’s family also moved and later bought a home in East Northport when she turned 16. Our parents kept in touch and would occasionally visit each other.
In 1964, we were invited to their house to celebrate Peggy’s 21st birthday. I didn’t particularly care about the party, but my mom insisted I go with them. I didn’t know it at the time, but mom had decided Peggy was going to be her daughter-in-law. I hadn’t seen Peggy since we left the Bronx.
The party was held in the basement of her house. I laid eyes on her as an adult for the first time when she came walking down the stairs, laughing at something someone said, and yes, there is such a thing as love at first sight. She was stunning in a very warm sort of way, wearing a lime-green shirt with a matching corsage. I had a hard time not staring, except when she made eye contact, at which time the floor became my center of attention. She told me later she paid little attention to me during the party until she offered me a drink and I spilled it on her lap. I was very nervous!
I saw Peggy again that summer with our families at a church picnic in her neighborhood. I asked her out on a date and we saw the film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” That winter we got engaged.
In August 1965, I was drafted into the Army and assigned to Oahu, Hawaii, as a company clerk with Satellite Communications, stationed in the middle of a pineapple field. While I was serving, through August 1967, Peggy and I wrote 565 letters to each other. I saved them all and we’ve been re-reading them recently.
On Oct. 28, 1967, we were married at St. Phillip Neri Church in Northport and honeymooned at the Stricklands resort in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. We lived in Farmingdale until 1974, when we moved to our present home in Sound Beach. We had two daughters.
Peggy worked in banking and retired in 2006 as a teller with HSBC. I was an associate manager, group health claims, with Metropolitan Life in Hauppauge until 2000, then became an instructor at AHRC in Westhampton Beach.
Our parents have since left us, as well as a sister, a brother and, God bless her, one of our daughters. We have both battled cancer but are now doing well.
This year we marked our 50th anniversary with a party at Sea Basin Restaurant in Rocky Point with our daughter, son-in-law, three grandchildren and 40 of our family and friends. We also took a cruise to Barbados. I hope “blue eyes,” my nickname for Peggy, and I will continue to be blessed.
— With Virginia Dunleavy