Jan. 4, 1948, was a cold, snowy night in the metropolitan area — the night that Johanna and Joseph Lucca were married at our Lady of Good Council Church in Brooklyn. Johanna recalls standing on a phone book because she was “just too short” for their pictures.
“We had a double wedding with Joseph’s twin sister, Ann, and her husband, Joe LaGrotta, and the priest didn’t know what to do with us!” Johanna said with a laugh.
Neither the snow nor any other obstacle, however, would stop the couple from exchanging vows that day. This week they are celebrating seven decades together.
“We did good,” said Johanna, who’s now 94, beaming at Joseph, who’s 93. The couple planned to celebrate their big anniversary at a grand family reunion and dinner at the Westbury Manor.
They met as youngsters at P.S. 26, an elementary school in Brooklyn, and continued on to the borough’s Franklin K. Lane High School. Johanna, who also goes by Jean, said she was friendly with Joseph’s sister and family, and they often spent time together.
“Back then we had to take the trolley car to get to school,” she said with a laugh.
After high school, Joseph served in World War II as a sergeant in the Army’s 78th Infantry Division. He was sent all over Europe for three years, and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. During that time, Jean worked as a secretary for the Hardman Peck Piano Company in Manhattan.
It didn’t take long for the couple to reunite and marry. Joseph joined the New York City Police Department — where he served for 28 years — and the two moved all over, including to Jackson Heights and Little Neck, Queens, and Garden City before they eventually settled in Wantagh.
Although they spend the colder months in Florida, they have lived in the hamlet for the past 35 years. They have attended services at St. Frances de Chantal Church for three decades, and always turn out for the annual Fourth of July parade. “We have our spot,” said their son, Joseph Lucca. “We park right on the corner of Island Road [and Wantagh Avenue] and watch all the floats roll by.”
The Luccas’ daughter Lorraine Paretta lives with her family in Wantagh, and stops by often. Two other children, Judy Shane and Joseph Lucca Jr., are in Bellmore and Massapequa Park, respectively. Another daughter, Marie Fischer, lives in Boston.
“I’m sure they’ve had some rough times, like all of us, but they’ve been such excellent role models,” Lorraine said of her parents. “We know they’ll always be here for us.”
The couple said they hope to see their family continue to grow for as long as they can. They have six grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“It was a good life,” Joseph said, smiling at his wife. “I always give Jean a kiss at night before bed, and we haven’t had many arguments. You can’t give up. You have to persevere.”
“It’s wonderful. I feel blessed,” Jean added, choking up. “We did a great job.”