Laura Cullen of Cutchogue recalls giving John Cullen a challenge before agreeing to marry him.
I was 15 in the summer of 1954 when my family moved from Hollis, Queens, to Flatbush, Brooklyn. Besides the few classmates I met at my new school, Erasmus Hall, I did not know many teenagers in the neighborhood except for Mickey Price, the redheaded boy who lived across the street from me. So when he invited my sister Joyce and me to a costume Halloween party, I was thrilled and accepted without hesitation.
At the party, Mickey introduced us to his friends, and I thought the one called "Rock" was rather handsome. He was wearing a black leather jacket with an eagle painted on the back, an idea he got from the lyrics of a rock and roll song.
My first impression was that he was a tough guy, especially when he said to me, "Hey, Babe, wanna dance?" I soon learned he was not a tough guy at all, but a nice 16-year-old Irish lad named Johnny Cullen.
We dated a few times and then went our separate ways. Three years later we met again at a friend's home. John asked me for a date to see a movie. During the film he put his arm around me and asked, "Will you marry me?"
I told him that he was supposed to ask me to "go steady" first. He said, "Oh, OK. Will you go steady with me first and then marry me?" Although it was not a romantic moment, it certainly was a memorable one.
He told me he knew he wanted to marry me from the first time he saw me. I said, "Yes, I'll marry you, but only after you memorize the names of all my sisters and brothers." "No problem," he answered. John did not know I was the oldest of 12 children. I then recited their names to him very quickly, something my family often did for fun.
On July 23, 1960, we were married in St. Jerome parish in Brooklyn. Mickey was one of John's groomsmen and has remained our dear friend to this day.
We moved to Central Islip in 1963 and then to Centereach. John worked in construction as a project manager in Manhattan and has been a volunteer firefighter for over 40 years. I was a private-care nurse and did volunteer ambulance duty for 10 years. We both retired in 2005 and moved to Cutchogue. Our three children and seven grandchildren, along with family and friends, celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with us this year at The East Wind in Wading River. Mickey was there, of course.