Rosemary (Russell) Lucas talks about meeting her husband, Steven.
Our first date, May 22, 1970, was a setup by friends. Steven was 22 and living with his family in New Hyde Park. I was the same age and living in Flushing, Queens, with my family. We were with three couples at The Camelot Inn in Mineola. During a break in dancing, Steven asked if I was having a good time. That was it for me! Believe it or not, I knew he was the special person I needed in my life. Three weeks later, he proposed, and I said yes. Of course, our friends and parents were shocked but knew we were meant to be together. My mom said it was fate since Steven and I were born 11 days apart at the former Physicians’ Hospital in Jackson Heights.
We were married April 3, 1971, at St. Luke's Roman Catholic Church in Whitestone, Queens, by the same priest who married my parents there in 1944. Our reception was at The Villa Bianca in Flushing. After honeymooning in Italy, we moved into our home in Patchogue, still our home today. We commuted together. First stop was Steven’s job at New York Telephone in Floral Park. I continued to my teaching job in Flushing. However, in July 1971 Steven went on strike for nine months. We supported each other during this stressful time. Our "treats" were dinner at McDonald's.
Steven was a member of the New York State National Guard "Rainbow Division" for six years. I worked at St. Francis De Sales Catholic school in Patchogue while attending graduate school.
In November 1973 our daughter was born, and I became a stay-at-home Mom. By 1979 we were a family of five. When our youngest son was 9, we took a monthlong tour of the United States. Steven's love of history and his degree from Adelphi University made him the perfect guide. The memories we share are priceless and comical — especially the time our van was surrounded by thousands of motorcycles in Sturgis, South Dakota, and, of course, the time we all slept in the car at a truck stop because of dense fog.
In 1983, I went back to teaching, this time nursery school, and Steven became a computer programmer at NYNEX in Manhattan. Though our days were hectic, we remained involved in our children's activities and volunteered with our church, the PTA and Boy Scouts as den leaders, committee members and, finally, trainers. Again, life took an unexpected turn when Steven lost his job at NYNEX because of downsizing. We went on to own a Mail Boxes Etc. franchise, now The UPS Store.
The whole family worked there after school and on weekends until Oct. 11, 1994, the worst day of our lives. Our son Robert was killed in a car accident in his senior year at Patchogue-Medford High School. Life changed in an instant for our close-knit family.
Today, our daughter and son are married, and each has a home within walking distance of ours. We retired in 2005 and are blessed with two precious grandchildren. We serve on the executive board of the Greater Patchogue Historical Society and are docents at the museum. Steven volunteers with several organizations and recently authored a book "Patchogue: Past & Present."
When you have your best friend by your side, you can make it through the hard times — and a sense of humor helps. We will celebrate our 50th anniversary with a family dinner, then watch movies of our wedding and dance to our favorite song, "For Once in My Life," a life I wouldn't want to share with anyone else.
— With Ann Donahue-Smukler
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