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Love Story: First date at the Copa, and they were partners for life

Richard and Rosemarie Cardone celebrate their 60th anniversary

Richard and Rosemarie Cardone celebrate their 60th anniversary in June 2020 in Massapequa. Credit: Susan Najah

Rosemarie (Surace) Cardone of Farmingdale talks about meeting her husband, Richard.

I was the youngest of 10 children raised in Sheepshead Bay. In 1956, I graduated from St. Brendan High School, an all-girls school in Midwood, Brooklyn, and landed a job as private secretary at an electrical and plumbing engineering company on Wall Street. To get to work each morning, I would carefully navigate the uneven sidewalks of East 14th Street in Sheepshead Bay in my spiked heals and pencil skirt to get "down the bay" to catch the subway. One day my best friend, Irene, asked me to join her at an open college night at New York University, where her brother’s friend Joe Caruso would be showcasing his woodworking course projects. After much eye rolling by me and coaxing by her, I agreed to go with her the next evening.

We were greeted by Joe, and I quickly realized Irene’s ruse. She and Joe were quite smitten, and she was excited to introduce him to me. (I would later be Irene’s maid of honor and godmother to her and Joe’s firstborn son, Joseph.). The three of us strolled the auditorium to admire the craftsmanship of future industrial-arts teachers. Halfway through, I noticed a handsome, dark-haired man staring my way.

He walked toward us, extended his arm and shook hands with Joe who turned to us and said, "This is Richard Cardone. We take classes together."

I smiled shyly and felt an odd warmth spread to my cheeks when Richard’s eyes met my baby blues. I later discovered Richard had confirmed I was single and asked for my phone number.

I did some snooping, too, and learned that Richard was 22, raised in the Inwood section of Manhattan and served as a Navy recruit on board the USS Whitley and USS Wyandot from 1952 to 1956. He was a second-class petty officer for carpentry and on active duty during the Korean War. Richard was decorated with a medal of distinction for heroic action saving the lives of two fellow sailors trapped in a cargo hold. After honorably fulfilling his four-year military term, Richard was awarded a scholarship at New York University. He pursued a degree in education, graduating with a master of science in 1964. He started his career at James M. Kieran Junior High School 123 in the area once known as Fort Apache, the Bronx.

Richard, or Richie, as I started to endearingly call him, took me on our first date to the Copacabana, a nightclub in Manhattan. It was during dinner conversation that he told me he couldn’t stop thinking about me and fell head over heels in love after we met.

Two years later, Richie proposed at the same table where we had that first date. We were married on June 11, 1960, at St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church in Sheepshead Bay and had a reception nearby at Chimes Restaurant. We moved into Richie’s apartment in Manhattan, where we started our lives together and raised three of our four children.

We bought a house in Farmingdale in 1967 where we live today. Our youngest son, Joseph, was born a year later.

Eventually, Richie transferred to Valley Stream Central High School, where he taught wood shop, ceramics, leather and jewelry, and mechanical drawing for 25 years. I worked at Stern’s Department Store in Massapequa, was a secretary at Nassau County Family Court and then in public relations at Eisenhower Park.

We enjoy the time spent with our children, Richard, Susan, Stephen and Joseph, their wonderful spouses and our nine terrific grandchildren. We will be celebrating our 61st wedding anniversary later this week.

— With Ann Donahue-Smukler

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