Harry “Bud” Fritzen of Holbrook recalls his secret courtship with future wife, Judy.
On Oct. 6, 1966, my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, formerly of Brooklyn, lost the second game of the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles. Although I lived in Uniondale, I was born in Brooklyn and was a loyal fan. To cheer me up, my friend took me to The Parkway, a bar and dance club formerly in Farmingdale. There he saw a girl he wanted to dance with and told me to ask her friend to dance, too. I reluctantly agreed.
When the dance ended, we invited them to have a beer with us. The girl he was with was very talkative — unlike her friend, who showed no interest in me.
We went to a diner, where the quiet girl, Judy Ling, began to warm up to me. She was 18, and I was 19. The four of us made plans to meet at another bar the next evening.
We all met again at The Straw Hat in Jericho. Judy was bright, sports-minded and appeared to be a very dedicated person. We also discovered we both liked to bowl. I wanted to know her better.
I found Judy’s number in the phone book and called to ask her to go bowling with me. She accepted but said I couldn’t come to her house. She explained that her parents, both born in China, insisted she only date Chinese men. I agreed to meet her around the corner from her home in Woodhaven, Queens, and so began our whirlwind courtship.
We continued dating, without telling her parents, for more than a year.
On Christmas Eve 1967, we got engaged and planned our wedding for August 1968. Then, I was drafted into the Army and reported for duty in May 1968. Judy finally told her parents about me. They told her to leave the house.
She moved in with my parents while I went off to serve our country. I was assigned to advanced infantry training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and was going to Vietnam.
I got a weekend leave and flew home for our wedding on Saturday, Aug. 3, 1968, at St. Thomas The Apostle Church in Woodhaven, Queens. Happily, her parents had a change of heart. They and her family attended our wedding and hosted a reception for us.
We spent our wedding night at the Jade East Motel near John F. Kennedy International Airport. I flew back to base on Sunday.
Then I got great news. My assignment was changed to Panama City, Panama. Judy was able to join me there. We lived off base.
I was moved to the finance unit and served as a pay clerk. She got a clerical job with the U.S. government.
Being newlyweds in a strange country was difficult, but we made it work. We came back to New York in May 1970, and I was honorably discharged. We moved to Holbrook in 1976.
We have had our good times and our rough times. Judy was my “rock” when I fought prostate cancer at age 46.
She retired in 2000 as principal stenographer in the special education office at Eastern Suffolk BOCES. I am a semiretired insurance agent with Hometown Insurance in Bohemia.
To celebrate our 50th anniversary in August 2018, we went to dinner at That Meetball Place in Patchogue with our two beautiful children, their spouses, our four wonderful grandchildren, my two sisters and one of their spouses.
We still bowl together and enjoy visiting baseball parks across the country (we’ve been to 26 so far). We are best friends, and we cherish every day that we have together.