Student political activism was waning, the Vietnam war had ended, and disco was beginning to edge out rock'n roll when I arrived at New Paltz in the fall of 1974 as a transfer student. Having graduated form high school across the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, arriving at New Paltz felt like I was coming home. Only now it was time to be serious about getting a degree.
Autumn in upstate New York is awesome. You've got to be there to fully appreciate the feeling. Through the second floor window of my suite in Bevier Hall, the view of the mountains and the changing of the leaves made the landscape look like a bowl of Trix. This would have been enough to distract any serious student, but there was work to do. To help pay the bills as a full- time student, I held a work-study job reporting to Mr. Tenaglia in the Office of Space Management. Students who attended New Paltz at that time might recall some guy walking all around campus with a clipboard and a walking tape measure. I was responsible for taking inventory of every single square inch of space on campus.
That's when she first noticed me. Her name is Nancy. I found out later she thought the clipboard was very nerdy. I had seen Nancy on occasion, and thought she might be two different people when she wore glasses instead of her contact lenses.
We lived in the same dormitory, but never met until I moved off campus in the spring semester. There were as many students living off campus as on, but the dorms were still a central meeting place. I would bring my laundry back to Bevier Hall once a week, and hang out in the lounge between the wash and dry cycles. Nancy lived in a first floor suite with a group of women who must have thought they got college credit for playing bridge. There was usually a game in progress, and they were serious. Don't miscalculate your bid if you get a chance to play with them, or you might not be asked to partner in a game again. It must have been luck that there was a break in the game, and Nancy wandered into the lounge. The conversation was strained. It wasn't love at first sight, but there was definitely an attraction. It took all the courage I could muster to ask her out. Nancy must have been nervous also, because after she said yes she warned that if I didn't show up she was going to "step on my head." For you guys on campus looking for a good date line, just invite her to a nice restaurant. Students have a fixation on food, because having a meal plan ticket that lets you eat once day is considered community property among roommates. Together we discovered the Casa Mia restaurant on Route 9W, which has superb shrimp parmigiana. The date went well, and we saw each other all the time after that. I even made the trip to Queens to meet her parents.
David and Nancy LyonsI graduated after the 1976 fall semester, and planned to attend graduate school at the University of Rhode Island. Nancy had two more years to go, but I didn't want to leave New Paltz without her. Graduate school didn't start until the fall, so I applied and got a job as the Dormitory Director in Capen Hall for the spring semester.
To this day, Nancy thinks she proposed to me, but it really was my idea. We got married on Long Island, April 24, 1977. Many of our friends at New Paltz came down for the wedding. It was the best time, the best food, and the best friends.
The official honeymoon was postponed because of school, and we went back to live in the dorm apartment until the semester was over. We moved to Rhode Island in the fall, where I eventually got my graduate degree. Nancy earned her degree in nursing. We settled down, and bought our first house. It's funny to think about how life turns out when you look back. We didn't plan it, but it couldn't have worked out better. We stayed in Rhode Island for about ten years, and were blessed with two daughters. Still trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up we moved to Boca Raton, Florida where we live today. Our son was born in Florida. He was also unplanned, and it couldn't have worked out better.
This past April, we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. Our oldest daughter is now a junior in high school contemplating college and what she might want to do when she grows up. New Paltz will always hold precious memories for us of the time when we met and fell in love. We've been back a few times, and always made it a point to check out the shrimp parmigiana at Casa Mia. It has been several years since we've done that. I wonder if the restaurant is still there? I'm not sure, but I hope so. Meanwhile, I can tell you about a great little place in Boca Raton that makes the most tender shrimp and hearty sauce.