Three weeks after the death of William Fay Jr. the following announcement appeared in Sept. 27 edition of The Long Island Traveler and Mattituck Watchman, the local paper covering Southold, L.I.
My parents had met when my father was working as a summer lifeguard at Jack’s Shack, the town beach on the Long Island Sound side of Southold. It was only a stone’s throw from Aunt Retta’s house. My mother and her friends, who lived on the Southold Bay side of the town would often congregate there as well. My mother was vivacious and pretty, and was never without suitors. She said she was not much taken by my father at first, but he did have persistence. He would often stop by the Kelly household on Founder’s Path. If my mom was out on a date, or with her friends, my Dad would stay and play cards with Grandma Kelly – a strategy that eventually paid off in spades.
My parents were wed on January 12, 1946 at the Church of St. Simon Stock in the Bronx, near where the Kellys lived on Morningside Ave. The best man was George McFadden, the maid of honor was my mother’s sister Adrienne. Mary Fay was included as a bridesmaid.
Bunty was discharged from the Navy a few months later in the spring of 1946 and he returned to Brooklyn. There he learned of the death of one of his Southold “buddies”, Donald Griffin.
The son of Orange Glendale and Louise (Capen) Griffin, Donald and his sister Barbara had been raised in the Bronx, but the family also owned a house on the North Road in Southold, not too far from where Retta and Jim Mulvaney lived. Although Orange Grifffin had died suddenly when Donald was only an infant, the Griffin children, like the Fays, spent their summers in Southold.
Donald had enlisted in the Air Corps in July of 1941, six months before Pearl Harbor. He thereafter married a girl from San Antonio, Texas – Caroline “Carrie” Tinnerello – and they had a son Donald “Glen” Griffin in 1944. By then Donald was a first Lieutenant and had been sent to the European theater, where he was piloting a B-24 bomber. In March of 1944 Donald was killed in action while on a bombing run to Germany. The plane he was piloting collided with another B-24 in the formation, and it went down in the Netherlands. He never had the opportunity to see his own son.
When “Bunty” heard of his friend’s tragic fate, he wrote a particularly thoughtful condolence letter to the young widow. Carrie was living with her mother in Texas at the time , but she later planned a trip to the east coast to visit her mother-in-law in Southold.
Martha Johnston described what happened next.
While there, Carrie mentioned the strikingly goodhearted sympathy card from her late husband’s Southold buddy. Apparently Carrie’s mother-in-law encouraged a meeting between Carrie and Bunty and so a meeting was arranged. Who knows how much time they spent with each other during that visit? When the time came for Carrie and her small child to go home by train out of Grand Central Station, Bunty told her that if she had difficulty at the station she could call him, as he’d then be nearby in Brooklyn. Carrie did call Bunty. He came to her at the station and the rest is history. My mother credited Carrie’s phone call to Bunty as a bold step that paid out and brought them together.
All of the Fay children were now wed, with the exception of Mary, who would never marry. The war was over and America’s economy started to experience phenomenal economic growth. The automobile industry was partially responsible, as the number of automobiles produced annually quadrupled between 1946 and 1955. A housing boom, stimulated in part by easily affordable mortgages for returning servicemen, fueled the expansion. The rise in defense spending as the Cold War escalated also played a part. The United States soon consolidated its position as the world’s richest country.
For most of the Fay siblings this meant moving solidly into the middle class, establishing good careers, moving to suburban communities with good schools and leaving behind the darkness that had shadowed their early lives in Brooklyn.