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Love Story: Love started in an elevator 

Christine and Michael Szap, seen in a 2019

Christine and Michael Szap, seen in a 2019 photo, are looking forward to celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Credit: Szap family

Christine talks about meeting and marrying her husband, Michael.

It was June 1965. I was 15 and my name was Christine Fulco. I lived in Flushing, Queens, and volunteered at Booth Memorial Hospital (now NewYork-Presbyterian Queens). I remember walking onto a hospital elevator one day and looking into the eyes of a medical intern. He was well dressed in a white shirt, a tie and white coat. He smiled and said good morning. It was brief.

Michael was doing his internship in pharmacology for the summer. As a volunteer, I rotated through many departments and finally got assigned to pharmacy. I was very nervous. As I was filling vials with tablets from a large jar one day, I dropped the jar and hundreds of tablets went flying in every direction. Michael was very polite and said to take a break and come back later since he knew I was upset.

Later that day, Michael went to the senior patient area and found me playing the piano for the residents. He must have been impressed and wanted to get to know me, so he lifted one of my sheets of music to use as an excuse later to come by my house. He did visit and asked me out. We started dating and would enjoy activities like bike riding, going to Kiddie City or the drive-in movies, both in nearby Whitestone. We bowled at Bowling at Bay Terrace in Bayside and ate at Jahn’s Ice Cream in Flushing.

We completed our educations, and Michael proposed to me under the Whitestone Bridge. I was surprised, because I was only 18, but Michael had already spoken with my parents. We were married June 27, 1970, at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Bayside and had our reception at Burburan's Towne House in Flushing. After the wedding and a three-week honeymoon in Italy, we moved to an apartment in Flushing, and I supported us through the completion of his doctorate in pharmacology at New York University. There were times we ate five times a week at my in-laws to help with the bills.

I worked in the medical field for six years before we had our daughter, Allison, and later our son, Michael. While our kids were in high school, I obtained my certification in early childhood education from the New York State Department of Education. I worked as an assistant teacher in preschool for 35 years.

Michael has worked more than 30 years for DuPont and then Glaxo Pharmaceutical. He taught part time at St. John’s University and City University. After retiring in 2012, he taught biochemistry and pharmacology at New York Medical School in Syosset.

Over time we’ve lived in Bayside and Little Neck, and two years ago we moved to Albertson.

We enjoyed collecting antiques when we were younger and now enjoy spending time with our grandchildren as well as gardening and cooking, and socializing with friends.

Our daughter, Allison, is a speech pathologist who married Bryan Vanderputten, an IT specialist. Our son, Michael, works in the pharmaceutical industry and married Tara Reiter, an attorney in the New York City courts system. We have four beautiful grandchildren, Jake, Dylan, Sofia and Ronan. Both families live nearby.

The past 50 years have been magical. Through hard work, love, devotion and a sense of teamwork, we are where we are today. Life has its ups and downs, but communication, patience, trust and love will get you through every time. Looking back, our meeting was by chance on an elevator, but the only way was up! We hope to celebrate our 50th anniversary in the near future.

— With Ann Donahue-Smukler

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 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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