William Powers of Terryville recalls how his introduction to his future wife, Catherine ("Tatty"), began on a sour note.
I came home to Flushing in October 1952, after two years of active duty with the U.S. Navy Reserve. I was 23 and had been a radarman aboard the destroyer USS Hawkins. Before that, I worked for Chase National Bank on Wall Street.
For several years, I participated in "The Wall Street Follies," a fundraiser for Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church, on Pine and William streets near Wall Street. Rehearsals were beginning, so I stopped by, dressed in my Navy uniform, to sign up. There, I saw a kick-dance line of beautiful girls. One of them stood out. "Who is that beautiful redhead in the chorus line?" I asked a friend. "That's Catherine Casserly," she said.
I always sang a solo in past shows and decided to sing "You Belong to Me." Onstage I introduced myself and said, "I'd like to dedicate this song to Catherine Casserly." Mind you, I had not met her yet.
See the pyramids along the Nile,
Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle,
Just remember, darling, all the while,
You belong to me.
Well, at the end of the song, the beautiful redhead came up to me and said, "Bill Powers, I don't belong to you or any man," and walked away. I couldn't believe it!
I didn't see Catherine, who was also 23, until rehearsal the following week. Afterward, I asked her if she'd like to get a cup of coffee with me. She agreed and later admitted that after thinking about it, she was quite flattered by my song dedication. And she loved my singing voice.
Catherine was a private secretary to a partner at Stewart and Shearer, a law firm on Wall Street. She lived in Flatbush, Brooklyn. We started dating and my family nicknamed her "Tatty," the result of a young relative's mispronunciation. Her father was always asking me to sing, something I love to do. That November, I was discharged from the Navy Reserve and went back to work for Chase Bank.
We loved to go dancing. Her parish, Holy Cross Church, had dances every Saturday night. Chase Bank held dances, too, featuring big bands, at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn. They were elegant affairs, free of charge to employees.
I proposed six months later. We were married on Jan. 30, 1954, and drove to Daytona Beach, Fla., for our honeymoon. There, we entered a dance contest and ended up winning first prize, a bottle of Champagne. In 1959, we moved to Terryville, where we raised our nine children. Tatty became a full-time homemaker and later held part-time jobs. She also kept busy baby-sitting our 21 grandchildren. We now have two great-grandsons. I retired from Grumman as a procurement manager in 1994. I serve as a deacon at Infant Jesus Roman Catholic Church in Port Jefferson.
This year we celebrated our 60th anniversary with our entire family at Amici restaurant in Mt. Sinai.