It has been said that, “Everyone has friends at various stages in their lives, but only the lucky ones have the same friends during all stages of their lives.” These words could not be more true than they are here in the Rockaways. Among the things that makes Rockaway so unique, is the fact that so many natives choose to remain on the peninsula, well into adulthood, raising their own families here. And with this pattern, longtime friendships are born.
Of the many locals lucky enough to have friends almost longer than they can remember, Maureen Blum Del Vecchio is one who has had the same group of four best friends for well past four decades.
Born in the old Rockaway Beach Hospital, Del Vecchio and her family are true Rockawayites. Del Vecchio, as well as her eight siblings, were all born and raised on Beach 133rd Street, where she was lucky to meet two of her best friends, Clare Lynch Shannon and Bernadette McLean Maxfield. Like most Rockaway families, Del Vecchio’s mother was great friends with Shannon’s mother, as they were pregnant with their daughters at the same time. So you might say, Del Vecchio and Shannon had a bond before birth and their lifelong friendship is truly lifelong!
Maureen and Claire found themselves with a new friend at the age of five when Bernadette moved to the block and the duo quickly became a trio. All three of the girls went to St. Francis de Sales together (class of ’74), where their friendship continued to flourish as they grew up.
When it came time for high school, the trio added two more girls to their group, Vanessa Van Leer Livingston and Monica Parness Monzo. When reflecting back on all the good times the group had, it was their love for the beach that really brought them all together. “Rockaway is summer, and we lived for the summer time in Rockaway,” Del Vecchio said.
During the summer, they spent their days and nights at the beach, whether it be sun-bathing during the day, or hosting bonfires at night. And when the bonfire blew out, the group took the fun to the local bars, which she says were all swinging, like old Dingy Dan’s, the Rain Tower, and Fitzgerald’s. When asking Del Vecchio to reminisce on all the fun she had growing up in Rockaway with her best friends, she said, “We’re all very blessed and we know it. It was a really great childhood, and now it goes on.”
However, while the fun stops after high school for most, as people move on with their lives and start their own families, this group knew that their friendship was much more than just any ordinary childhood friend group. As Del Vecchio said, “We have gone through college, our ‘Sex in the City’ stage when we were all newbies on Wall Street, first loves, broken hearts, our weddings… and separations, the loss of grandparents, parents, and siblings together.”
The group insists on keeping in touch, regardless if they still live on the peninsula or not. At one point, Del Vecchio lived in Italy, Maxfield in California, Livingston in Hawaii, all while Shannon remained in Rockaway. But despite the fact that the friends had spread across the country and internationally, the bonds remained just as strong as ever, as they survived living in different countries, states and a 12-hour time zone difference.
However, Del Vecchio said, “When we were living in very different parts of the world, our connections were much more limited for a few years. But that never mattered, because as soon as there was a connection, it was as though time had stood still for us.” In order for their friendship to survive, it didn’t necessarily matter where this group traveled, because Del Vecchio said, “I know how precious we are to each other, and never take it for granted.” Now that all five of the girls live in the states, they try their best to all get together at least once every three months. They have a group text where they chat and laugh, all keeping each other updated on recent news throughout each other’s lives. Despite everyone’s hectic schedules, Del Vecchio said that they will always make time for each other. Because they continue to keep in touch, all of their children are friends, making the lifelong friendships almost a family affair. Del Vecchio, Maxfield and Shannon remain in Rockaway and raise their own families here. Because of their wonderful childhood, it was important for Del Vecchio to raise her family in the same loving environment she experienced. Del Vecchio jokes, “I didn’t choose to live in Rockaway because of the lack of transportation, but it’s because of the incredibly unique community of Rockaway.” Now, Del Vecchio and her family reside on Beach 103rd, and they are witnessing the beautiful revival of downtown Rockaway. She continues to enjoy her time on the beach, listening to the music blasting from the boardwalk. Because of her wonderful childhood in Rockaway Beach, and the lifelong friendships that formed on this tiny peninsula, she is happy her daughter was able to create her own friendships and experience this unique, and yet incredible type of childhood that she once had.
And she expects her daughter to have long-lasting friendships because this is Rockaway. Where friendships are born. And where friendships last.
By Marina CreganBLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS