Lois Jean Stewart of East Patchogue recalls the long time that elapsed between falling in love with her future husband, Daniel “Dan,” and their courtship.
In 1952, my cousin and his friend Dan Stewart came over to visit my family. They both went to Patchogue-Medford High School. Dan was 16. My name was Lois Jean Guckert. I was 12 and a student at the former St. Francis De Sales Elementary School in Patchogue. That was the day I fell in love.
Dan worked after school at J.C. Penney in Patchogue village. On weekends, I would be in town with my parents and I’d sometimes notice him on his break. He always stood at “Four Corners,” the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Main Street, in front of Havil’s jewelry store, with one leg propped on the building, smoking a pipe. He still smokes a pipe.
If we were on the same side of the street, we always exchanged “hellos.” If I was on the other side of Main Street, I’d just dreamily gaze at him. He worked there until he graduated high school in 1956.
After I graduated from Bellport High School in 1958, I went to work for Patchogue Electric Light Co., in the pre-billing department. Dan had gotten a job there the year before as a meter reader.
We saw each other occasionally, either at work or at my cousin’s house. Dan always teased me like I was his little sister, but I was thrilled whenever he spoke to me.
He was also in the Navy Reserves and served for eight years, including one year of active service as an electrician aboard the destroyer escort USS Albert T. Harris (DE-447). Upon his return, he got engaged to a very nice woman and they married. My heart was broken. My mother said: “You had better stop thinking about Dan Stewart. It’s never going to do you any good.” She knew all along I was in love with him. I dated a few guys over the years, but no one was in my heart.
Then, in 1963, my father died unexpectedly. Family and friends, including Dan, would stop by to offer any help they could to my mom.
We both continued to work at the electric company, which was acquired by LILCO in 1964. A few years later, Dan and his wife divorced.
He still helped my mom with any electrical issues at the house. Over time, Dan and I became good friends, and that friendship eventually evolved into a loving, caring relationship.
We began dating, and on Aug. 27, 1977, we had a lovely wedding at the Congregational Church in Patchogue, then went to San Francisco and Los Angeles for our honeymoon.
We moved in with my mother. In 1985, I left LILCO and became a full-time homemaker, taking care of my mother until her death in 1988. Dan and I still live in that house and are very happy there. He retired from LILCO in 1996 as a meter and test specialist. We enjoy traveling and have been to Florida, Hawaii, Scotland and England. Dan has three children, whom I love very much. We now have six grandchildren.
Last year, we celebrated our 40th anniversary with a month’s stay at our vacation house in upstate New York. We thank God for all the blessings of good friends and family, and mostly for each other. Forty years have passed, and we are still loving and caring for each other.
— With Virginia Dunleavy