Phyllis (nee Schuster) Lader of Blue Point talks about her life with her husband, Curt.
It was February 1968, just after my 18th birthday, when Curt and I met. I lived with my family in Flushing and was a freshman at Queens College. Curt was 20, lived with his family in Plainview and was a junior at Queens College.
We met in the cafeteria when I approached a mutual acquaintance and asked if he could give Curt, a pop music columnist for the college newspaper, my suggestions for challenging trivia questions for a future contest. He introduced me to Curt on the spot, and we had a great conversation about our similar musical tastes. Within a week he asked me out for a date. It was a Turtles concert at Queens College where, very appropriately, we sang along to "Happy Together."
At the concert, Curt and I immediately felt a connection, and from that point on we were indeed happy together. What began as trivial pursuit turned into a lifelong love story. Incidentally, after the concert we met up with Curt’s friends, radio DJ legends Pete Fornatale and Dennis Elsas, for a bite to eat at a nearby diner.
After dating for a little more than a year, Curt proposed. We shared our exciting news with friends that night at the Queens College annual Champagne Ball, a promlike celebration at the Huntington Townhouse. On Aug. 29, 1970, two weeks after I completed my bachelor's degree, we were married at Garden Jewish Center of Flushing. We honeymooned in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and then moved to an apartment in Hicksville. Not long after that, because of my love of trivia, I won $180 (a month’s rent then) in 1971 on the original "Jeopardy!" with Art Fleming.
We moved to Smithtown in 1974, when our first son, Craig, was 2 months old. Our second son, Glenn, was born five years later.
After spending 11 years as a stay-at-home mom, I went to work at The Smithtown News, where I was a reporter and later a columnist, too. Curt enjoyed a 36-year teaching career at Northport High School, where he taught American History and Advanced Placement Government and Politics. He authored several books, including Barron's AP U.S. Government and Politics test-prep book. He also taught journalism and participated for many years in Newsday's annual student press awards contest. Curt, a natural leader, is the most competent person I know, especially with technology, about which I am clueless. Fortunately, I have skills that he lacks, which I remind him of whenever he gets frustrated by my technology deficiencies!
In our retirement, we love spending time with our sons, our daughters-in-law, Melissa and Lilia, and especially our 14-year-old grandson, Ethan, who is as big a political junkie as his grandfather. And BC (before coronavirus) we enjoyed Broadway shows and traveling the world, in particular, a three-week trip to Australia and New Zealand last year. And we’ve always been avid Mets and Islanders fans.
Three years ago, we moved to The Vineyards at Blue Point, where we’ve made many friends and where Curt popularized weekly Friday night happy hours, which will resume after the pandemic. We postponed a trip to Israel because of the pandemic but will celebrate our 50th anniversary locally with family and friends.
Looking back, if I could talk to my younger newlywed self, I would say, “You've married the right guy, now just enjoy the ride!" My philosophy for a happy marriage has always been that if each partner thinks they’ve gotten the better deal, they’ve got it made!
— With Ann Donahue-Smukler
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