'She was mine from the beginning'
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Lacking electricity and running water in her home growing up, Leonora said that her family relied on kerosene lamps and pitcher pumps for their basic needs. “Everybody was poor, but we didn’t know it,” she said. “There was no designer shoes or designer sneakers. You wore hand-me-down clothes.”
It wasn’t until after World War II, she said, that East Meadow began changing into the suburbia that it is today. It was then that the real estate company Levitt & Sons began mass-producing homes throughout the area.
After establishing their home in East Meadow, the Colemans had five children in 10 years — four daughters and a son. Leonora stayed busy raising the children, and Robert opened Coleman’s Poultry Farm in Uniondale with his older brother, George. The business lasted about 10 years.
Their four daughters — Caroline, Brenda, Leonora Jr. and Joyce — all attended Barnum Woods Elementary School, Woodland Middle School and East Meadow High School. Their son, Robert Jr., attended the La Salle Military Academy in Oakdale.
After selling the poultry farm, Robert worked in construction, and as their children grew into adults, he and Leonora were able to spend time abroad. They have been to the Panama Canal, Alaska, Europe and the United Kingdom. “We’ve been all over,” said Leonora.
Twenty years ago, the couple drove 3,000 miles across Europe, visiting nine countries and principalities. They have been in England five times for Air Force reunions. And in 1997, the couple, their children and grandchildren went on a cruise to Bermuda to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
Robert is now confined to a wheelchair and has trouble walking on his own, and as a result, the couple no longer travel.
In all their years, they never considered leaving East Meadow. “East Meadow is our home,” said Leonora. “I’ve lived here all of my life.”
Happily ever after