Carole Barris of Bellmore recalls meeting her future husband, Ralph, on her first day at work.
I was 23 when I arrived on Long Island in September 1963 from Richmondville, New York, a small town about 50 miles west of Albany. I was hired as an English teacher, my first teaching job, at Jerusalem Avenue Junior High School in North Bellmore, and found a house to share in Baldwin.
At the teachers' orientation meeting, I noticed the very handsome social studies teacher, Ralph Barris. I thought, "I'll never date him. He probably dates every new teacher once and then drops her."
On our first day of school, Mr. Barris was waiting outside my classroom to help me "get set up." As a new teacher, I had to get a chest X-ray. He offered to drive me to the radiologist in Lynbrook after school. I didn't know where Lynbrook was, so I accepted. On the drive back, Ralph invited me to stop for Chinese food. I guess that was our first date.
Ralph, 25, lived in Long Beach and had been teaching for two years. His family had owned a summer cabin in West Berne, New York, a few miles from my hometown.
We continued dating and tried to keep our relationship quiet. However, everyone noticed Ralph hanging around my classroom, and news of our dating spread throughout school. The seventh-grade girls drew hearts on their notebooks with Mr. Barris and Miss Radez (my maiden name) written inside.
At midnight Mass on Christmas Day in 1964, Ralph presented me with a beautiful engagement ring, and on July 3, 1965, we married at my little parish church in Summit, just outside Richmondville. We continued teaching at Jerusalem Avenue until 1966. Ralph was now a guidance counselor and, to avoid a conflict of interest, I transferred to Brookside Junior High School in North Merrick.
In 1967, I became a stay-at-home mom, a job I relished. In 1978, after our two daughters were in school, I went back to teaching at Wantagh Middle School.
Ralph retired as a guidance counselor at Grand Avenue Junior High School in 1995 after 35 years with the Bellmore-Merrick School District. He started playing golf, reading voraciously and tending his garden.
I retired in 2002, and wrote the Wantagh Schools Retirees' newsletter for seven years. During that time, it won a New York State journalism award each year. I also started a Red Hat Society chapter, an international group for women over 50 who love having fun.
Over the past 50 years, I've appreciated the fact that Ralph is a very patient man. He's steady, reliable and a great father.
We are fortunate that our daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren also live in Bellmore. Last month, we celebrated our 50th anniversary with a dinner party at Westbury Manor for friends and family, including my five siblings and their spouses from upstate New York.