Tucked away on the west side of the small town of Broad Channel in the middle of Jamiaca Bay is a narrow, dead end, street that goes by the name of West 12th Road. Those of us who live there know that the nice part about living in a small town is that when you are not quite sure what is going on, someone else always does!
[Peter J. Mahon West 12th Road, Broad Channel]
Back in the 1940’s our nation, still reeling from the “Great Depression,” suddenly found itself in the midst of a World War. My father, Peter J. Mahon Sr., a young man from Jackson Heights, Queens, answered his country’s call and after serving in the European Theater with the U.S. Army’s Mountain Division in Italy, returned home and worked for a brief time with the Telephone Company before joining the New York City Police Department.
At the same time, my mother, Margaret Theresa Kelly, known to her friends as “Peggy”, was a young Irish lass from a small farm in County Galway, who decided to leave her native country and travel across the Atlantic to New York where she made her home in Woodside, Queens. Although the pretty colleen’s presence in the predominantly Irish enclave drew more than her fair share of suitors, fate decreed that she would chance upon a certain young police officer and soon “Pete and Peggy” became an often seen couple in Woodside, dancing the evenings away in the Tower Ballroom on Roosevelt Avenue, at that time a favorite haunt of the newly landed first generation Irish. Their romance was such that it was mentioned in the local Irish newspaper, the Irish Echo. “Pete Mahon of Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, is now a full-fledged member of New York’s Finest and looks like a magazine cover in his uniform. No wonder the girls sigh as Pete strides along the street but his smile is reserved for a pretty colleen from Galway who seems to have more than passing interest in this young cop.”
Both fate and the Irish Echo had it right as on April 24, 1949, Pete and Peggy walked down the aisle of St. Sebastian’s Church and stood side by side at the altar where they exchanged vows and became husband and wife. After their reception (at the Tower Ballroom of course!) it was off to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon before returning to Woodside. Their wedding was the start of a grand adventure that continues today, some 66 years later, giving rise to three children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Back in October of 2003, after 54 years of marriage, Dad suffered a heart attack and passed away in an ambulance that was racing him to Elmhurst Hospital. I was with him at the time and his last words to me were “Tell your Mother I love her!” Mom was devastated with the loss of her lifelong love and best friend and although she was always surrounded by her family not a single day passed without her mentioning how much she missed him and longed to be with him again. Although Mom became enamored with our small community here in Broad Channel during her many visits here, she nevertheless refused to leave the Woodside home she had shared with Pete for so long.
This past year as Mom celebrated her 97th birthday her health began to fail rapidly. Unfazed by her physical ailments, Mom was giving to saying “My bags are packed, I’m just waiting for the train to get to my station so I can be with your father again.” The long awaited train finally entered Mom’s station on Friday, July 10 at 2:43 p.m. when, surrounded by family at home, her heart stopped and she closed her eyes for the last time. Those of us with her at the time saw the pain leave her face and the hint of a slight smile come across her lips as her final wish was granted and, at long last, she once again joined her love of some 66 years for eternity proving that real love stories have no endings!