Melchiore "Mike" and Frances "Fran" Algeri of Commack knew at once they were meant for each other. Mike recalls their courtship.
One summer day in 1959, I was with a friend outside of Woolworths on Knickerbocker Avenue in my neighborhood, Ridgewood, Brooklyn, when two girls came out of the store. My friend called out to them and asked their names. The taller girl said "Ro," the shorter girl responded "Fran." He asked for a last name. She replied, "Ro, Ro." I said to the other girl, "Then you must be Fran Fran." They kept walking and we followed.
We ended up in front of their house and talked for a while. I asked Fran if she would go for a walk with me the following night and she agreed. Fran, being extremely talkative, told me her life story. She was 16 and was starting her senior year at St. Joseph's Commercial High School in the fall. Rosalie (Ro) was her cousin. I was 17 and had just graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School. I was to begin engineering classes at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in September. I asked her out for the following week. Our first date was at the Aqua Show in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. We were inseparable that summer.
Then, on Sept. 9, 1959, we went to a rock and roll show at the Fox Theater in Brooklyn. We were having a great time. When singer Jimmy Clanton came on stage and sang "My Own True Love," I gave Fran my high school ring and asked if she would go steady with me. She said yes and that song forever became our song.
We saw each other virtually every night, even if only for 10 or 20 minutes. Fran would often come to my house and, while I was studying in the kitchen, she would watch TV with my family or do crafts across the table from me.
I don't remember formally proposing to Fran in January 1963, when I gave her an engagement ring. We didn't have to say anything, we just knew where everything was going with us. I graduated from college in May 1963 and we got married in St. Joseph's Church on Sept. 26, 1964, followed by a reception at the Astoria Manor.
In 1966, we bought our house in Commack, where we raised our four children. Fran retired in 2005 as accounts payable manager for Fairfield Properties in Commack. I was an engineering planning manager for Long Island with NYNEX in Wantagh until retiring in 1997. I'm now a tax preparer for H&R Block.
Earlier this year, we took our children, their spouses and our 10 grandchildren on a cruise to the Bahamas to celebrate our 50th anniversary. It was a joy being with them. Recently, we renewed our vows at Christ the King Church in Commack. Our family threw us a party afterward at Pace's Steak House in Hauppauge, where Fran and I danced to "My Own True Love."
Because of a fortunate few seconds outside Woolworth's, I found a million-dollar baby in a five-and-ten cent store, and I still have her -- my soul mate.