Franklin Square residents Joan and Frank Montalbano, who met during World War II in England, celebrated 68 years of marriage this year, as well as their 89th and 93rd birthdays, respectively.
Joan Hooley and Frank Montalbano met in Saint Albens, when Frank was a member of the American 8th Air Forceâ€™s 92nd Bomber Group and was assigned to work on the B-17 planes as a mechanic while stationed in England for four years. At the time, Joan worked in a dress shop as a sales girl and was learning window dressing before the war broke out. When it did, Joan herself was assigned to work on a plane â€” a British warplane dubbed the Mosquito.
The year was 1942. During down time before they knew each other, Joan and Frank visited Victoria Hall, a popular venue for dancing in England.
After they met there on night, Joan and Frank made an arrangement to meet once a week to dance the night away. At the time, neither of them had any idea that these dance-dates would lead them into long lives together.
They began to date after their chemistry became apparent from dancing with each other. Frank would ride his bicycle for miles just to visit Joan, and recalls being chased by a bull in an open field as he peddled to see his future wife. At that point, Frank knew he was in love. As Joan would wait for Frank, the butterflies that fluttered in her stomach made it clear that she was in love too. Over one year, both Joan and Frank were head over heels for each other.
Frank then met Joanâ€™s family, who were in Oakland, Saint Albens, England. Her family loved him, which admittedly was no easy task. Joan was one of seven children. To impress all of her siblings, as well as her parents, Frank had to keep the charm on high at all times it seemed. It worked.
Frank, having already attained permission from Joanâ€™s parents, proposed to her while they were both on a train to Hartford. Without hesitation, Joan accepted his proposal and they bought a ring together the same night from a small Hartford shop after dinner.