Donald Bayles of Southold recalls the day he began courting future wife Doris.
I was born in 1923 and grew up in Middle Island, which was mostly farmland in those days. I went to the only high school in the area, Port Jefferson High School, and rode the bus to school with students from surrounding communities, including my future wife, Virginia Doris Faron of Coram.
She was a year behind me in school and everyone called her Doris. We also attended the same church, Middle Island Presbyterian, but I never had occasion to speak to her, except to say “hello.”
After graduating in 1941, I attended NYU College of Engineering in the Bronx until February 1943, when I was drafted into the Army. I was a sergeant with the 24th infantry division in the Philippines during World War II. In July 1945 I was wounded, and after three months in a hospital on Leyte was sent to a hospital in Tennessee. I was discharged just before Christmas. I was 22.
In May 1946, I was at an auction in Middle Island when a fetching young woman approached me. It was Doris, who by then was 21. She told me she was working at the Patchogue electric company. We began strolling through a nearby apple orchard. The trees were in bloom and I gathered some blossoms for her. That was our first date. We continued dating, and by summer’s end we decided to get married before I resumed NYU classes in the Bronx.
On Sept. 1, 1946, we exchanged vows at Coram Methodist Church, her parents’ church. We were eligible for veterans housing on campus, but it wasn’t available until January. We both agreed I should start classes immediately, so Doris stayed with her mother while I lived near the college that first semester. She would meet me in the Bronx on Friday nights and we’d travel back to Long Island for the weekend.
I graduated in 1948 and accepted a position as a civil engineer with the Tennessee Valley Authority. We lived in Knoxville with our young son for four years, then briefly lived in Huntington and Providence before returning to Coram in 1953.
We built a home there and enjoyed weekends boating on Long Island Sound. I worked with a land surveyor and eventually opened my own office as a consulting engineer and land surveyor. Doris worked in the Coram Post Office from 1961 until 1963, when she agreed to run my family’s insurance business and became an insurance broker. Tragically, we lost our son in a car accident the following year while he was serving in the U.S. Navy.
In 1973 we bought land in Southold and built our present home. Around that time, in our 50s, we started to ski and became co-owners of a Vermont ski lodge. It was sold in 1988, but Doris and I kept on skiing into our late 70s.
We both retired in 1985. We’ve visited Britain, the Western states, Newfoundland and the Canadian Rockies. On the way home from our two-month stay in Australia and New Zealand, we stopped off in Tahiti and Bora Bora. We really enjoyed seeing this wonderful world of ours.
Now in our early 90s, we still reminisce about our lives together. To celebrate our 70th wedding anniversary on Sept. 1, 2016, we were treated to a wonderful open house at our home with the many friends and relatives who have kept us healthy and feeling great. We consider ourselves a very lucky couple indeed.
— With Virginia Dunleavy