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Love Story: Patricia and Dennis Franco, Massapequa Park

Patricia and Dennis Franco of Massapequa Park found love with the introduction of

coeducation on campus. Patricia explains.

I met my husband-to-be, Dennis, when we were both students at Hunter College in New York City. I was from Richmond Hill, Queens, and Dennis lived in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The college had previously been an all-girls school and turned coed our freshman year in 1964. We started classes amid "Ban the Boys" signs and buttons. It was always a challenge for Dennis to try to find men's bathrooms, which were located on odd-numbered floors and designated with paper signs that occasionally fell off the doors.

Since we both came from Catholic high schools, we joined the Catholic Newman Club on campus. We'd see each other at meetings, or I'd notice him "observing" me in the halls, but we didn't speak to each other until October 1965, our sophomore year.

My girlfriend Penny and I volunteered to organize the Halloween "Bewitched" dance. We were selling tickets when Dennis approached and bought a ticket and asked if he could volunteer. We said he could check coats.

The evening of the dance, Oct. 22, turned out to be "bewitching." Dennis asked me to dance every dance; we held hands, and he escorted me home. He later admitted that he had volunteered because he had seen me in the halls and wanted to have a chance to meet me. I was flattered to have been singled out because there were thousands of girls in attendance at Hunter and only 400 boys.

We dated throughout the rest of our college days, and on Oct. 22, 1968, - three years after we met - Dennis surprised me with a box of Loft's assorted chocolates. The center piece of candy had been removed and replaced with a beautiful engagement ring. We were married on Aug. 23, 1969, in my parish, St. Benedict Joseph Labre Church in Richmond Hill, by Msgr. Herman Heide, our Newman Club chaplain. Our reception was held at the Le Cordon Bleu in Woodhaven, Queens.

After a wonderful honeymoon in Dorado, Puerto Rico, we started our teaching careers. My career was halted with the births of our three children in the 1970s. We moved to Massapequa Park in 1984. Dennis taught Earth science at Wagner Junior High School in Manhattan and then at Ryan Middle School in Fresh Meadows, Queens. He retired in 2008 and now mentors new science teachers part-time at the Ryan.

I didn't return to teaching, but I worked more than 20 years as an administrative assistant in the circulation department at Newsday until 2008.

We enjoy traveling, family functions and spending time with our two grandchildren. We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with an enjoyable family gathering at the Milleridge Inn in Jericho.

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