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Love Story: Kids and root beer floats brought them together

Sandie and Joe Bolze of East Setauket in

Sandie and Joe Bolze of East Setauket in August 1968, when the newlywed couple were living in New Mexico, where they met. Photo Credit: Bolze Family

Sandie Bolze of East Setauket recalls her courtship with her husband, Joe.

I didn’t like Joe when I first met him, and he didn’t care for me. It was October 1967. My husband and I had recently moved across the street from Joe in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and his daughter invited my 4-year-old son to her birthday party.

Joe was divorced. He was 29 and from Port Jefferson. He worked for Grumman in Bethpage before being transferred to NASA’s White Sands Test Facility, where he worked on the lunar module.

I was a 28-year-old special education teacher, originally from St. Louis. Joe had hired a woman to watch his three children, ages 3, 5 and 6, while he was at work, but they soon began hanging out at my house every day after school. I always had treats for them.

In May 1968, Joe’s daughter asked me to help her backstage at her dance recital. At this point, I was also divorced and asked Joe to sit in the audience with my son. He took us for ice cream afterward.

Joe was taking his children to White Sands Monument Park a few weeks later. My son wanted to go. I asked Joe if we could tag along with them. He said, “No!” I said I’d bring a fried chicken picnic dinner. He still said, “No.” He finally agreed to take us when I also promised homemade potato salad.

About halfway to the park, we drove into a huge sandstorm. We slowly made our way to the park only to learn that it was closed, so we headed back home.

Joe took us through the mountains to get around the storm. We pulled over and ate our picnic in the car because we were surrounded by snow. We were laughing and giggling the entire time.

The route around the storm took us 60 miles out of our way. We sang lots of songs and played “I spy.” Eventually, I “spied” an A&W root beer stand with swing sets and bathrooms, and we stopped for a well-needed rest. Joe used a pay phone to cancel a date he had that night. The kids got to play, and everyone had root beer floats. From then on, we did everything with the kids together.

Our newfound friendship quickly developed into love. That June, Joe asked me to marry him.

With four young children we had many things to work out, but love always finds a way. On Aug. 11, 1968, we were married by a justice of the peace at the Mission Inn Hotel with a breakfast reception afterward.

I became a full-time mom. Joe is Catholic, and I am Jewish. We are a unique family in that we all went to temple on Friday night and church on Sunday morning.

In June 1969, Joe was transferred back to Long Island. We first lived in Sayville and then moved to a home in East Setauket, where we live now.

Joe retired as a senior engineer metrologist In 1995. I taught kindergarten at South Country Central School District in East Patchogue from 1976 until I retired in 2002.

Each anniversary, Joe and I share a root beer float to celebrate our love for each other and that it has produced a loving, caring and growing family.

Joe and I had two more children together. We now have six grown children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

They joined us on a cruise last year to celebrate our 50th anniversary — and we all had root beer floats.

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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