Marlene Proct of East Meadow talks about meeting and marrying Jerry.
I met Jerry in 1949 in my St. Albans, Queens, neighborhood. I was 16 and Marlene Schlossman then. Jerry and a friend were playing ball when a throw went wild and hit my younger sister on her leg. Friendly conversation followed, and my sister introduced me to Jerry. He was 24 and recently discharged after serving on a Navy landing craft during World War II. I was finishing my junior year at the former Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn. We started dating, but my parents objected because of the age difference, though we were seriously falling in love. Dating was different then: We socialized with a group of five couples going to the beach, parties or to restaurants. I had an after-school job at a McCrory’s, a five-and-10 store on Jamaica Avenue. Jerry was an electrician at Pullman Co. in Long Island City. He drove me home after we finished working.
I wanted to go to college but knew it would put a financial strain on my family, so I decided to seek employment after graduation. With Jerry and I knowing we would spend the rest of our lives together, our parents had a discussion that led to an engagement ring, which I showed off at my prom.
We drove to the country (Nassau County!) in 1950 to see new houses and toured a five-room model in North Valley Stream selling for $9,999. Jerry had $25 that he handed over for a binder. We told our parents and began planning a wedding. I graduated in January. My parents gave their consent for our marriage license since I was 17. We were married June 18, 1950, at Temple Beth Israel on Farmers Boulevard in St. Albans.
We moved into our new home, and our first child was born 18 months later. Two more kids followed, and seven years later we moved to a larger home in North Bellmore where we lived for 55 years.
I enrolled in a Hofstra College night class. We could afford three credits, $30 each. After nine credits, money ran out, but fortunately Nassau Community College was established. At first, NCC classes met in the basement of the old Mineola courthouse and Westbury High School until the opening of the campus buildings, which were leaky Quonset huts anyway.
After graduating, I returned to what had become Hofstra University. I had many part-time jobs while raising three children and volunteering in our kids’ activities. Jerry moved on to air conditioning and heating troubleshooting.
I was nearing graduation in 1966 when I became pregnant with our fourth child. We were surprised and delighted. Jody was born five days after final exams, July 30,1967. I majored in speech pathology and got a part-time position at the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale, only four miles from home, allowing me to continue graduate school at night. After 11 years, I graduated with a master’s degree and was promoted to a full-time position.
Our children went on to college and marriages and have blessed us with five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Jerry and I enjoyed traveling to many countries in Europe and the United States. We sold our beloved home and moved to The Seasons, a 55-plus community in East Meadow where we look forward to enjoying our remaining years.
Plans for the whole family to enjoy a four-day cruise to Bermuda to celebrate our 70th anniversary and Jerry’s 95th birthday were scuttled after the coronavirus erupted. Instead we enjoyed a virtual brunch with the extended family with food I arranged to be sent to each home, across four states. And Jerry enjoyed a drive-by birthday celebration by the East Meadow Fire Department and family and friends. It was a thrill.
— With Ann Donahue-Smukler
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