Mike McAleer of Valley Stream recalls how he met his wife, Pat.
Pat and I met during a YMCA dance lesson in Jamaica, Queens, in January 1956. Pat was 16 and lived with her sister in Brooklyn, and I was 18 and lived in Middle Village. There had been a bad snowstorm that day so I offered to take her home. She was with two girlfriends, and I drove them all home.
I called Pat the next day. Her sister-in-law answered and told me Pat didn’t want to see me anymore. I later learned that Pat thought I was much older than I was. I was persistent and called every day — until three weeks later when she agreed to go out with me.
My plan for the date was to take her to a restaurant, then a movie. While at dinner at Bickford’s in Ridgewood, I realized I had left my wallet at home. Pat had just started a new job at an insurance company and had just gotten paid. She loaned me the money for the dinner tab and movie tickets. The next day, Pat’s brother-in-law told her that she’d never see that guy or her money again. But I made another date with her and repaid the money, plus I gave her an ankle bracelet as an apology.
We went steady for three years and got married June 6, 1959, at St. Margaret’s Church in Middle Village. We moved into an apartment over an ice cream parlor in Maspeth. We bought a little house in Elmont in June 1961, and I got drafted into the Army three months later. I was stationed in Vicenza, Italy, where I served as a company clerk.
Pat rented out our house in Elmont and joined me there. We bought a 1952 Opel and traveled in Italy as much as possible on a private's salary. Everything was reasonable there: Cigarettes were only 12 cents a pack.
Our son, Michael, was born there. I jokingly tell him to show people the bottom of his foot where it says “Made in Italy.”
After 24 months I was discharged and we moved back into our Elmont house. Our daughter, Christine, was born a year later.
I worked for Fisher Radio Co. in Long Island City for 18 years and eventually became a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier in Hicksville and later in Floral Park. I retired in March 2001.
Pat worked part time for nine years at Great Eastern Mills in Elmont. Then she went on to work as a data-input clerk at the Nassau Library System in Uniondale until she retired in 2002 after 24 years.
Pat loves to play bingo with her sister every week, and I love to golf. One time I missed a hole-in-one by 2 inches; that was the highlight of my golf career.
We love to cruise. Over the years we’ve sailed on about 40 cruises and have two more cruises coming up this year. We are blessed with a beautiful family. My son and his wife have three children, a girl and two boys. Our daughter and her husband have twins born on two different days, hours apart. Our granddaughter has two boys, which makes us great-grandparents.
My wife and I sold our house after 49 years and moved to a condo in The Meadows in Valley Stream, a senior-housing complex, nine years ago.
Pat is the love of my life. We have a great life together, and we wouldn’t change a thing. It’s hard to believe we’ve been married 60 years.
— With Ann Donahue-Smukler
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