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Love Story: She’s always been tops with him

Frank and Lucy Caldone of Deer Park celebrated

Frank and Lucy Caldone of Deer Park celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in September, 2016. Credit: Caldone family

Lucy Caldone of Deer Park recalls her first date with future husband Frank, and their courtship.

Frank and I met in 1959 when I was 13 and he was 15. He had just moved to our block on Powers Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My name was LucyAnn Tursi back then.

His mother told me years later that when he first saw me from his window playing tops in the street with my friends, he said to her, “See the little one about to throw the top? She’s the girl I’m going to marry.”

We saw each other every day with the other kids on the block. When Frank found out I had a crush on someone else, he would make sure to distract me whenever the other boy was around.

Then, in 1961, Frank asked if I wanted to go to Freedomland, an amusement park in the Bronx, with him and his family. That was our first date and we had a great time. We started going out every weekend, to church dances or into Manhattan to see a movie or to a Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood for dinner. After our dates we’d call each other on the phone and talk until our parents told us to hang up.

Frank enlisted in the Army in December 1963. He served at the Walson Army Hospital as a medic with the 86th Engineer Combat Division at Fort Dix in New Jersey. We still have all the letters we wrote to each other. I spent a lot of time with his family while he was away.

In June 1964, I graduated from Washington Irving High School and started working for the New York State Workmen’s Compensation Board as secretary to the president. That September, Frank came home on leave for my 18th birthday and surprised me with an engagement ring. My father loved Frank but insisted we wait until I turned 20 before we marry.

Frank was honorably discharged in December 1965, and on Sept. 18, 1966, three weeks after my 20th birthday, we were married at St. Francis of Paola Church, followed by a reception at the Regency House in Jamaica, Queens. We spent a week in the U.S. Virgin Islands on our honeymoon.

For the first years of our marriage, we rented an apartment on Powers Street, where we met. Frank worked for his family’s trucking business until 1969, then became a collections man and driver with the New York Sanitation Department in Queens. He retired in 1990. I became a full-time homemaker and mother when we started our family.

In 1970, we moved to our house in Deer Park with my parents. My father, who passed away in 1976, asked us to fill the home with children and we did. We have two sons and two daughters, and have added two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law and six grandchildren. My mother lived with us until her passing in 1997.

Frank is a school bus driver for the Deer Park School District, and I work part time for Schlesinger Associates in Dix Hills as a marketing recruiter.

I enjoy making chocolate and crocheting, while Frank enjoys playing tennis and baseball with our children.

For our 50th anniversary last year, we renewed our marriage vows at Sts. Cyrils and Methodius in Deer Park, surrounded by all of our family and friends. Our children gave us a beautiful celebration party afterward that was held at my eldest son’s home.

We are so blessed to have our health and our family nearby. Watching our grandchildren grow is a blessing in itself.

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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