Jerry Pesther of Levittown talks about meeting his wife, Lorraine, and their beautiful life together.
In June 1947, I was living with my family in Springfield Gardens, Queens, and attending PS 137, a six-room schoolhouse in the wetlands close to what would eventually become Kennedy Airport. After sixth grade, students were transferred to PS 37 for seventh and eighth grades. It was there that I met Lorraine Tarpey, who would become the love of my life.
For the next two years, we were in the same homeroom with our English teacher, Jeanette De Fau, who told us at eighth-grade graduation that we “made the perfect couple.” Little did my 13-year-old mind know that Miss De Fau could see into the future and had gotten it right.
We attended different high schools, but one Friday night in the fall of 1953 we met again at the Springfield Roller Rink and picked up the interrupted threads of our lives. Roller skating was big then. We would meet at the rink and flirt and skate to organ music doing the “all skate,” “trios” and the ultimate goal, “couples only.” My thinking on Friday and Saturday nights progressed from “maybe Lorraine will be there” to “I hope Lorraine is there” to “tonight I’ll see Lorraine.” I was shy, but I had Lorraine’s telephone number and was just waiting for the right time to use it.
The right time came in April 1954, when I needed a date for a triple-date with high school buddies. When I called Lorraine, I learned a lesson usually taught to first-year law students: Never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer. When Lorraine answered, I said, “You’ll never guess who this is,” and she said, “Walter?” Talk about getting off on the wrong foot! But we recovered, and the rest is history.
We had a classic 1950s courtship: trips to the Bronx Zoo, summer nights at Elliot Murphy’s Aquacade at Flushing Meadow, swimming in Lake Ronkonkoma, movies at the Valencia Theatre in Jamaica, and long, aimless car rides where we discussed everything imaginable including Brooklyn Dodgers Duke Snider and Carl Furillo, and the Dodgers' (at last) World’s Series win. Lorraine was an avid Dodgers fan.
We planned a small wedding, marrying in November 1957 at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Springfield Gardens. After the ceremony, we returned to Lorraine’s home for a family dinner cooked by her father.
We started married life in a small apartment in Rosedale, Queens, and settled into a life of work, play, friends and family. We forged successful careers, mine in banking and Lorraine’s in education, always being careful to balance work and play, knowing that the really worthwhile things in life are the friends and family and memories made throughout the journey.
In 1959, we were blessed with our daughter, Allison. We moved in 1962 to a Levittown “starter house,” where we still live today. The years rolled by with extensive travel, new friends, continuing old friends, and the work that enabled it all. Allison met and married Bill, a man we are proud to call “our son,” and together they have given us two grandchildren, Ryan and Lauren, who have grown into fine young adults who light up our lives.
In 1996 Lorraine and I retired. We have been able to keep our lives active with friends, family and travel, watching our daughter and grandchildren mature and prosper. As we reflect on all the wonderful people, places and things that have made our lives perfect in every way, we continue to be overwhelmed at how blessed we are to have this beautiful life.
— 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 Love Story, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747; or email firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.