Weddings: Denise Pavone-Brooks and Jeffrey Storck
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Every afternoon in the spring of 1974, Jeffrey Storck would sit at his desk in high school and watch the clock, anxious for the minutes to pass. When the final bell rang, he would rush to his part-time job at the grocery store and pray for a visit from the smiley redhead with the bright green eyes.
"She was the prettiest girl I'd ever seen," he says.
She'd come in with her mother, navigating the aisles of the A&P in Northport, Long Island, stealing sidelong glances at Storck. One evening she came in by herself and Storck followed her to the parking lot.
He told her that he'd gotten something that day and that he wanted her to have it. In his hand was a class ring, just out of the jeweler's box. "I asked her to go steady with me. We'd never even gone out on a date," he says. "I just had to have her."
It was a bold move considering that Storck didn't know that Denise Pavone-Brooks was constantly looking for reasons to go to the A&P, harboring a crush on the cute boy who worked in the produce department, although she never had the nerve to say anything to him beyond, "Can you weigh my bananas?"
That night, she took the ring and agreed to be his girl.
For the next year and a half, the two, who went to different high schools, spent all their spare time together, sailing, taking photos, meeting each other's families and going to the prom.
"We never had an argument or a fight. Never once," Storck says. "In my head, I was going to ask her to marry me -- I wanted to. But I knew her parents and my parents would say, 'Oh, you're too young.' "
So Storck decided that once they got through college he'd be ready with another ring, this time a diamond.
In fall 1975, he headed off to Southern Illinois University; she was enrolled at Clarion University in Pennsylvania.
"And I was really worried about this," she recalls. "I was worried we'd break up or something. And then he started talking about how school was going to be so much fun and all these parties and all these girls, and I thought, 'Oh, he's breaking it to me easy.' "
They wrote a few letters, talked on the phone occasionally and, without her parents knowing, Pavone-Brooks bought a plane ticket to visit Storck in Illinois. But something wasn't right. To her, he seemed removed and uncaring.