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Love Story: He found his destiny at the Highway Inn in Roosevelt

Andrea and Stephen Chiarello will celebrate their 52nd

Andrea and Stephen Chiarello will celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary this year. Credit: Chiarello family

Stephen Chiarello of Central Islip remembers how a night of dancing led him to meet his future wife, Andrea.

On Feb. 7, 1964, I went with a friend to a well-known dance club, the Highway Inn in Roosevelt. At the club, I introduced myself to a girl named Andrea, who was there with one of her girlfriends. It was love at first sight.

That night I told my friend, “I’m going to marry that girl someday.” I was 19 years old, and Andrea was 16 years old.

On the night we met, Andrea and I enjoyed dancing together at the club, listening to music from popular groups like the Ronettes, the Temptations and the Supremes, and to songs like “Twist and Shout” by the Isley Brothers.

Our first official date came a week later, on Valentine’s Day, when I went to her house in Massapequa to meet her parents. A month after that, on her birthday, I gave Andrea an ankle bracelet decorated with hearts and engraved with our names and the date that we met. She still has that ankle bracelet.

After meeting, we were together every weekend at dance clubs, enjoying the many doo wop and R&B singing groups who performed back then. It was an era that will never be duplicated. We still keep in touch with friends that we made in those days.

Andrea was originally from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and had moved with her family to Massapequa about a year before we met. I had grown up in Valley Stream. We dated for about 21/2 years before getting engaged.

In July 1967, I went into boot camp for the Marine Corps at Parris Island, South Carolina. After finishing boot camp, I came home, and on Nov. 12, 1967, we got married at St. Finbar Catholic Church in Bensonhurst. We honeymooned in Bermuda, then settled into our first apartment in Valley Stream.

I graduated with a degree in business administration from the New York Institute of Technology and spent 37 years as an internal auditor for the Hearst Corp. in Manhattan before retiring. I also spent 22 years in the Army and Marine Corps reserves, and I am a Gulf War veteran.

Andrea graduated from Massapequa High School and worked as a stenographer at the Nassau County Family Court in Westbury for more than six years. She later worked as a sales rep for two different greeting card companies.

We have lived in Central Islip for the past three years, and we spend part of the year in Henderson, Nevada.

Andrea and I are blessed to have a son, a daughter and four grandchildren. Two years ago, for our 50th anniversary, our children surprised us with a trip to Aruba. This year, for our 52nd anniversary, we’ll be celebrating with a family dinner on Long Island.

Andrea has always been the life of the party. She is the love of my life, and I am so lucky that I met her at that club.

We have a love like no other.

— With Laura Mann

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Access the online form at newsday.com/lilovestory — or send an anecdote along with your phone number and a photo to Love Story, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747; or email ann.smukler@newsday.com, or call Ann Donahue-Smukler at 631-843- 2520. Publication is not guaranteed. Photos cannot be returned and may be used in other publications affiliated with Newsday.

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