Meeting Claire for the first time, then reading a book she wrote!

ARAMIS:

This picture of my Aramis, this exact bottle I bought on the day I met her, begins the story of how I met Claire and how our lives together got closer and closer for over 26 years. I’m writing this now, as I want to put this true, wonderful life story on our site on the internet called “HandstoGod.com”!

A bottle of aftershave that changed my life! A bottle of Aramis that changed Claire Bubenday Cuni’s life! So here is the true story of my life when I was alone after my divorce. I won’t talk about the next woman in my life as it was a disaster and taught me to be careful, maybe too careful. So, living alone in a small home I bought on Fire Island, N.Y. My life consisted of seeing my sons and having a great dog called Quattro, having family and friends come to stay and enjoy the ocean, beaches, and great food that I made. All was just great now that I had all that a man can ask for… I thought!!!

Then it happened, but I didn’t know it happened, as being now a little unsure of myself I met a woman who really made my life heaven on earth. How? You ask! Well, one day I called my great and funny cousin Al, and asked him if he knew where I could buy my aftershave, ARAMIS, as I just ran out. He turned and asked his wife, Fran, and she said Macy’s is the best place for perfume and stuff. I then asked, not being from Long Island, and only knowing how to get from Manhattan to Fire Island, always with a stop at Al’s, and nothing else. So, Fran yells to the phone, I’ll take you, just come to our house, and I did and My life changed from that moment on……….Wow!
When we arrived at the perfume counter a saleswoman was just finishing another customer and turned to me saying “Can I help you”, actually looking at Fran, and not me. While this was happening, I was looking at a beautiful woman passing behind the saleslady. I turned to her and excitedly asked who is that woman? She said that she walked the department showing different perfumes to browsing customers. Again I said, Excitedly! Can I meet her? She said we’re not allowed to tell other people their names unless we ask them first! But, honestly, how can you ask about her when your wife is standing next to you. I said “She’s my cousin’s wife, and just helping me buy Aramis! So she turned to the woman and asked “Claire, This gentleman would like to know your name, can I tell him? Claire turned and looked at me undecidedly, and asked “Where is he from?” I yelled to her, I just bought a home on Fire Island and don’t know anybody. At first, she was startled for a second, and then said it was ok. This was the beginning, “The beginning of a beautiful friendship, love story, and life adventure that lasted 25 years!!
I asked if I could have her phone number, and again, she hesitated and I jumped in and said I’d just like to take you to lunch! She said we can have lunch one day at Friendly’s next door if you like… Wow! I said any time, that is, once I learn how to get here. That meeting later over lunch told me I wanted to see her more and more. Naturally, I finally got her phone number, but made a few mistakes thereafter, and here is where I would like to bring in Claire’s version on the next stage of our relationship.

This is the most precious picture of Claire as it is her, at her best! She doesn’t even like beer but here she is acting as though she loves it. This is why she always is loved by everyone because she never wants to displease

Isn’t she just beautiful in her way of just simply smiling!
After writing about my first meeting with Claire, Her friends messaged me after I wrote it and their comments about that time are interesting as it gives different points of view of the event.
Trudy, a co-worker at Macy’s:
Hi Sal, I remember that day, she told me that she just met a nice man out in Macy’s, where she sold Aramis and that he asked if she would join him for lunch in Kismet! We smiled, and I said ‘go, you have nothing to lose’! Well, Claire had a great time, she said that she really liked you, you seemed a little eccentric, but she right away felt a connection! There were many more times in Fire island,- Saltaire … and Claire started the happiest times of her life with you!

This is what my younger sister Nanette remembers of this story as she just sent it to me.
Yes, your love story is exactly how I remembered you telling me, because I came to Fire Island after your relationship was still at the “budding” stage, not yet “blooming”, as I recall. You were still “searching” and Claire had confided in me one day that she was there, as she said she cared about you a lot and wanted to be #1, but she, too, had to be sure. Not sure if I ever told you that, but she and I had that conversation when we had walked the beach with Quattro. You were busy!

Finding Claire’s Book one week after her death :

I’m reading this from a book that Claire had kept without my knowing, and in the book, it tells of her version of us meeting. Her life at that time, and so I would like to bring this book onto the site because it explains her feelings! So to begin:

Claire writing…

Now he is in California at a wedding on January 11,1997 and also to visit his mother. I just love the way he thinks. He has so much love to give. He is so loving. Just the way he looks at me. When he takes my face in his hands and holds it and kisses me. He just loves life. I am so grateful that I met him. He is the light of my life right now. I have had such a great time with him. If it rains now I would be sad, but also thankful for the great time we had together. Going to the beach, walking to the ocean, and having lunch. Him cooking for me, serving me, making chicken soup for me. Dancing with me. Introducing me to Cointreau, a beautiful drink I love, and good wine. I really could learn to love him. He is much too good to be true. He is in California then comes to Florida then to Philadelphia right now it’s one 6097 I hope he comes home today and calls me. I love to hear his voice. He is such a happy person. Even with his personal loss in 1996 when the love of his life left him, he said he was paralyzed I can’t compete with that. I just hope he heals, and learns to forget so we can be happy. I am just glad to be part of his life for a short time. He makes me feel good. Which I need desperately. He thinks I am beautiful! He says he can’t find anything wrong with me. He thinks I am great. I wish I could’ve met him years ago. It’s not his looks so much, it’s his heart. It’s now 11/7/1997, Sal called me at 9 AM he came back from California and Philadelphia he said could he come over for coffee. He stayed about an hour. It was good to see him. He wants to go to Saltaire. I said yes, but Nancy, my friend, called me and told me that her son Loni, who is a captain on the ferry. He said they canceled all ferries for the weekend because it’s too cold and the bay is frozen. I called his cell phone and left a message. I had a good day today. Sal came to see me and the girls, especially Nancy who gave me a beautiful cake and a beautiful silver heart. Nancy said because they love me, that’s why they gave me the heart, and I I thought I would just put down how I’m feeling. It’s 1996 not such a bad year financially, it could be better. I have been on my own now since 1995. It’s a great feeling. It’s nice to be by myself. Not to have to answer to anyone or check for anyone. I can eat when I want, sleep when I want and do what I want.

Well I moved from North Babylon to Bayshore New York because my daughter Angela wanted to move in with her boyfriend( husband now) in North Babylon they could not have Cody, their dog, with them. So, I moved here. I hate it here! So now I am looking for another place to live. Hopefully, I can find one. Right one which allows dogs. It’s June 1997 I also changed jobs from Macy’s makeup, to South Bay OB/GYN. Then to Hearex, on January 27, 1997. It should be great. I also have a friend. In October 1996 I met Sal Bianco, what a great guy. He is tender and caring. He has a great heart. He is so good to everyone. He has a house on Fire Island, in the town of Saltaire. I have been there many times. He is great, he cooks for me, and even massages my back. He also has a great dog called Quattro a yellow Lab. He loves his dog, and he has three sons and he loves his sons, isn’t it great. He is always traveling on business; he has an office in Connecticut. 

On 2/2/97 we did go to Saltaire after all, as Sal’s cousin Al drove us to parking Field five, and the security guard from Saltaire picked us up at five, and drove us to Sal’s home. He is such a nice young man. He is getting married in July. The weekend was great. The pipes froze and he fixed it. He cooked for us again, he made breakfast in bed, made lunch, I keep thinking it can’t be real. He is too good to me. He called me at 9 o’clock tonight. He made me feel really good. He seemed excited to talk to me. We are planning to go to the city from Saturday until Sunday to stay at the Hyatt Inn, and I can’t wait. I love just the way he touches me, the way he does, he takes his hands and holds my face. He says I am pretty even without makeup. Not that it’s true but I feel good anyway when he tells me this. He is in Connecticut tonight and tomorrow, as he is going to New Jersey to see his sons, Michael and Trey. Michael’s girlfriend left him again, for the second time, poor guy. I started my new job on Monday, January 7th, and I am excited. I go into Manhattan at 9 AM. This should be good yea! ”Yea” (she always raises her hands high when she says “Yea)
He makes me feel so good I feel like I am in heaven! (she has drawn a happy face next to it.
( And as I read it again, I saw that happy face, and I burst out crying and crying saying to her how I miss Her!)

On 2/8/97 I started my new job and went to Riverhead instead of Manhattan. Today I went to Islandia. I got to use the computer, to address the patients, answer the phone and use the copier, and it was one of the bosses who said that I did a great job.

Sal and I went to Manhattan on Saturday to eat in a little Italian restaurant. ( Il Cortille)The meal was wonderful. From there we went to the Hyatt hotel to register and then we went to the World Trade Center. To the windows of the world, on top looking over everything, but it was very foggy so we could not see anything. But we had a great time anyway. I tried sushi. Sal fixed it for me and then I tried raw oysters. They were great and Sal fixed it for me. He is so good to me and spoils me.
From there we walked to Broadway Times Square, to see if we could get tickets. We got tickets for Miss Saigon. It was good, but it made me a little sad. Because of the war situation.(Don’t forget she was 2 when it started in Europe and Bomb holes were where she played into its water!)From there we walked back but it was real cold so we stopped to eat at a great place called Limoncello’s Italian place. It was great. Then we went to the hotel. He is great. In the morning we had breakfast on the floor then, we went home. We went to Fran’s house. They are such a nice couple. Then Sal took me to Château La Mer in Lindenhurst. We had such a good time. Fran and I talked a lot. She told Sal that I am the best for him because she likes me. A great wonderful weekend thank you Sal.

Thank you God! 3/4/1997 I just talked to Sal. He called me back from last night. I called him last night. He never called me back so he called me to apologize for not calling me back. He knows I am going into surgery. He had plans to go to China so he is going on Friday the seventh or on Monday the 10th. He will be back in 10 to 15 days so it will be the end of the month.

We were talking and all of a sudden he said well don’t expect me to be there this weekend. He gets me angry sometimes when he says that. I always get the feeling that he pulls away. When he goes to Connecticut or on a trip I didn’t know why. He makes me feel bad

5/19/ 97 I called Sal in the morning to wish you a good day. I have been seeing Sal every week and weekend. It has been great! I had my surgery on 14 March. Robert took me and 8 AM to the house. He is my son. My daughter Angela came and picked me up at 3 o’clock. She stayed with me all night. Sal came and picked me up in the morning at 9:30 AM to go to Saltaire, he was great, he took care of me.

3/30/97-Happy Easter!
I spent Saturday on Fire Island with Sal. He made a leg of lamb and it was great! I went to Robert’s for Easter, Angela and Perry too. It was OK. I went to Fire Island last weekend too. I think I feel kind of sad right now. Gloria, my friend, told me that Fran’s friend is Carol Malone’s sister, and that Sal has a girlfriend in New Mexico called Susan. I don’t know about her. She has two kids, and he told me about her. He likes her and says he doesn’t love her. I am trying to be very cool about this one. I like him and he is very good to me and good for me. I know he doesn’t love me and I don’t love him. But I could love him easily if I let myself. Good friends more than good friends, but it still hurts me to know that he still talks to her and has her phone number and work number on his phone but I keep thinking I have been seeing him since October 20 and has been the happiest time of my life. We had a great time together. We laugh all the time, we are good for each other. I get scared and don’t know what to do. PS, it was such a great weekend
April 15, 1997 it has been almost 6 months since Sal and I met. Has been great. We had a long serious talk. I told him about Susan and what Gloria told me about her being his girlfriend. He said he saw her five times over the summer and in January once!. He said he liked her but he is not in love with her. He told her not to call anymore so I feel much better.
May 1, 1997 well we had to put Cody to sleep! I was very sad and trumatic that day. It broke my heart. To see her run down the stairs to the car. If she only knew what we were doing. She almost seemed to perk up when she was feeling better, but she was really sick, poor thing. At the Vets, she got out of her collar twice like she wanted to run. God! That broke my heart. At least she’s at peace now. It was awful for her in this apartment at 62 West Oakdale, Bayshore Please Cody, forgive me. I hope that you enjoyed the beach on fire Island tap. You had a good time there every weekend, so did i. I love you Cody, rest in peace. {Here I, Sal, started crying, as she drew a heart.}

10/19/1997 I haven’t written for a while. It’s been a whole year since we met and started dating. Things are good and bad. I don’t know what to do. But I think about it. if I didn’t have him I would be sitting home alone. So I guess it’s OK. I wish for someone that would love me, and would want to be with me. I guess it’s not meant to be that way. Sal’s sister is here from California (Nanette). It was Sal’s birthday on October 15. We celebrated it on Saturday, October 11 at Franny’s house. I bought a cake and 2 dungaree shirts and Aramis shampoo from Quattro. He loved it all! We were on fire Island on Sunday and came back on Monday early, because Mr. Yeung, who is Sal’s worker that Sal has been taking care of, bought him a new house in Brooklyn. Mr. Yeung came from Connecticut with his wife. We showed him around Bayshore. I took his wife and Sal’s sister, Annette, shopping. She said some harsh things about Sal. I don’t know if I can trust her.(note here: Nanette was told by my X that Claire was not good for me and other stuff that Annette believed until recently I told her what was really was the truth.)

Today is 10/19/97
On Sunday, I did not hear from him. I talked to him on Friday a.m. the last time. I don’t understand why he can’t call me! But his sister is still here and he has someone he has to do stuff with. I guess I am good enough when no one’s around?

10/19/97
Well I quit Hear X, July 24. I received unemployment. That was a surprise, $201.00 dollars a week. Thank God. I was off for two months. It was a great summer. Except for not having a job, I was supposed to work for Dr Mastrogramis, but the hospital did not want to hire a second person, so I went back to Macy’s on Friday and got a counter manager job for Christian Dior. It’s OK, I did not want to stand eight hours again. But I had to take it. $11.00 an hour plus 5% commission +1% override. Well, I hope it works for me!

1/24/98
Well I have not written for a while. I have been very busy. I am seeing Sal a lot. He is getting much better.
He is such a great guy. He is getting closer. Yet pulling away at the same time. He always makes it clear that he can’t love me because he feels nothing but the loss of his soul. When Elaine left she (had an affair). Sometimes I feel that I should not see him. But then I feel that he is so good to me. He treats me very well. He even said that he loves me in a different way. But he loves me. I just take one day at a time” and thank God for all the good things that happened to me. I have had a great year since I met Sal, and I am thankful for every day.

5/17/1998
I have not written for a long time. I’ve been very busy. There are a lot of changes in my life, big changes! Sal and I have been seeing a lot of each other. We went to Florida in January, met Al and Fran there, and also went to see Annmarie, who became a friend of mine. We had a great time. That was my first flight and it was great. He took me on vacation to Saint Thomas. It was fantastic! We ate, we danced, we went sightseeing. He bought me a beautiful pearl necklace and a bracelet in silver. We both had a great time.

I also quit Macy’s and I’m getting Social Security and unemployment now. It is very strange but great! Sal is in Fresno right now buying a Peterbilt truck, /He left Wednesday and is coming back on Monday the 18th. I went to Fire Island by myself, as Sal was away, on Monday and came back today. Sunday, the dogs got out. Kevin found them and put them in the house, Thank God they were found!
6/18/98 Monday.
Here I am again. I came off the island on Monday with Sal. He had to go to Connecticut to fix one of his houses where he is staying until Wednesday night or Thursday.
He came back Wednesday night and went straight to fire Island. I was a little hurt. He did not call, I called him and he was already there. I don’t like when he does that.
It almost seems cold. Then he said he is going to Trey’s house to help with the fence. Almost like I am going to be busy. I’m not going to see you. Kind of brushing me off. That hurts. Next week he is going to Chicago for business. I have to say last week I was with him almost all week. So maybe he feels he needs a break.

I should be grateful for all the good things that have come my way. Because of him I guess sometimes I want a little more of his love. Which I don’t think it’s ever going to be. But I thank God for all I have. The wonderful days at the beach, and the great meals he cooks for me.
Sal is now looking into buying a store as a florist in Sayville New York and I love that town.

6/19/98 Today is Friday night 12:10 in the evening. I am watching TV. I went to see Doctor today I was having some problems with my back. Kind of where my kidneys are. Sort of an ache every now and then the doctor said it could be kidney stones, so I have to go get a sonogram. So we’ll see what happens. I left there and picked Sal up at the ferry and the dogs. He went to see Mr. Young’s house in Brooklyn and then he left to go to Treys for the weekend. They are going to put up a fence and it’s Father’s Day, so it’s good he is with his sons.

6/20/98 I just get a funny feeling about Sal and me. Like he does not want to be around anymore. I will just have to see when he comes back. it may be just me. But I wish I could feel better about him. Sometimes he can be rude and a little cold and inconsiderate. Why can I find someone that wants me and loves me? I guess it’s not meant to be. To talk about happier things. My daughter Angela is getting married in May 28, of 1999. She had already chosen a wedding gown. Sal is going to pay for it and the head piece. ( Here I cried and Cried, telling her I’m sorry as I should have told how much I loved her)

7/17/98 Well here I am at home. The weather is kind of grey. Just like the mood I’m in. I should be happy, but I’m not. Because I guess I would like more. But he told me from the start,(actually after about a month of dating) that he doesn’t know what he wants and that he has no feelings and no soul. My luck, I could not find someone that loves me. He is a good person. He is good to me. But he cannot love me. Too bad, it would be great! Because I could fall in love with him.

Angela’s wedding plans are going great; her gown is ordered and paid for. she has her shoes, we have to order the veil. she has to call the photographer, the video. It’s going great!

7/31/98 Well things keep changing. He definitely wants to be friends only!. So I am going to have to live with it. I think I can. I seem to have the ability to adjust to almost anything. I’ll adjust myself, my way of thinking. Thank God I can do this. So, on we go., on to something else.

So Sal is getting me into a florist. He made an offer to the owner of the store for $180,000. The owner asked him for 199,000.00, 8.5% in 30 years. Now he wants 185 8.5% in 10 years. So Sal is trying to see what can be done. So I hope it happens. I am going to throw all my energy into this. Good luck!

8/14/98
Well it’s really happening! “Yea”( with her hands flinging in the air.) We put a binder on it on Thursday 8/13/98. I went to the Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wed. 8/12/98. It went great. I felt so good! Very positive, very confident with myself. I met “Rick Lazio”, the Congressman. All in all it was a great day!
“Claire the great”
Ha! Ha! Thank you, God! And thank you, Sal!

Angela and I are so happy to be able to work together! Sal sold his house in Connecticut. ($299,000.00). He also sold his house in Connecticut; he has one more to sell.
I also want to say here I had all my checkups with doctors and I am perfectly healthy! Thank God! How very lucky I am!!!!
!!!!!!! (THE END)!!!!!!
All this was written by her when we first met and I’m here now thinking after reading it, if she is here, I hope, seeing what I now write to her memory!

Hi! I’m Sal and can only say that I’ve never seen or read this till a week after Claire died 3/15/21, and now only because of the rings on her hand that were always on her hand, and now left in her drawer. So, I want Her three children to have these beautiful rings as they were always on her hand, and on a copy of her hand made by Michael 15 years ago. It’s hard for me to read this little book as we never held anything from each other. So I cannot understand why?
Actually, I think Claire felt so bad about some things about me that she wrote, she was now sorry for writing them, and didn’t want me to ever see them.
Actually, I understand why she wrote them because I truly was going through a shock myself(stupidly)! Me being dumped! Impossible! But it happened and I was 68/9, still me but fooled by what I could bring to the table.
I will cherish this book as long as I live and hope to show the world how truly wonderful a woman she was! I will get this and our other writings published, watch and see!! Says me, who? Why Sal Bianco Jr.!
9/13/21 I just finished editing it for my mistakes while transferring it from a book into this Claire’s real story of life. The book is real and I keep it by my side as I go to sleep, but only before I tell how I love her, kiss it and then go to sleep!

I think she felt it was all a mistake, cause as she learned of me, she truly fell in love! Me, like a ding dong was in love with her the moment I laid eyes on here, but didn’t know it. Please understand she went through a tough childhood, then a life in N.Y. without speaking English all by herself, and then a marriage that was hell as her in laws treated her poorly not allowing her mother into their home. then we met and both began a life of paradise, yes, truly paradise

Published by

Sal Bianco Jr

Born in a fifth floor cold water apartment on Mulberry Street in Manhattan, NY, Have 3 very successful sons, Created a business called White Knight Ad Ventures LLC that had offices in Hong Kong, Manila, Seoul, Bangkok, Canton, China. Formed a Company called "Made in America" traveled 300,000 miles in a RV I made myself on a Peterbilt truck. Fly a powered parachute,and planning reaching 100. .

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