Bill Riordan and Angelo Bosica… A love story.
In the 1950’s drug stores not only filled your prescription, but there was usually a food counter, ice cream and coffee. Pines resident Bill Riordan would go to a drug store where a young man named Angelo Bosica worked as a soda clerk to flirt with him. At a time when being gay could cause you to be arrested, Bill Riordan and Angelo Bosica, who had fallen in love, began their lives together by renting a home in Cherry Grove where they would escape to on weekends. They soon found the Pines, and built a home and life together in the growing community. They were part of a migration from Cherry Grove and NYC that was beginning to happen. They would pass on their love for Fire Island Pines to Bill’s nephews like a valuable family heirloom to be cherished and valued.
At first Bill and Angelo rented a house in the up and coming Pines on Tuna Walk. It was a quieter time, long before Stonewall or the heyday of the gay 70s. Prior to the explosion of modern architecture built in the 70’s, for which the Pines is now famous.
After some time they then purchased their modest home on Sky walk.
Soon more and more friends were invited to see this new haven for gay men.
Here they were free to be, share, discuss life. They would reminisce about the days when sharply dressed gay men went to the Bon Soir to hear the latest toast of New York a 20-something Jewish girl from Brooklyn with the most amazing voice… Barbra Streisand.
The Pines became home to them as they became part of the community, and continued expanding their network of friends.
The solitude of the beach was the biggest attraction, and the wide open spaces.
Bringing family was also important to them. Aunts and Uncles, as Bill’s nephews were invited out to see the life they were building here.
Nephews Jeffrie and Brian loved this far away place.
1960s. Brian Riordan recollects: “When I look at old pictures from their (Bill Riordan and Angelo’s) deck back then, it was amazing how one could see so many other houses, the bay, as well as the ocean. Now, with all the growth, it truly has changed. Soon after my parents married, many of our childhood vacations were spent on Fire Island. My brothers Jeffrie and John who were a bit older, have a better memory of Fire Island than I do.” Pictured here are Jeffrie, Brian, and John. Picture courtesy Brian Riordan.
1960s. “The Pines has a strong sense of family for me, maybe it is the old pictures, the stories and all the wonderful friends that were part of my uncles’ lives (Bill Riordan and Angelo Bosica) or perhaps it is just knowing that these two, in their own way, are so much a part of the history of the island in the sense that they grew, as the island grew. These young, vibrant gay men began their life’s journey nurturing their relationship together in the Pines, while at the same time the Pines itself grew. During that period of time the Pines was a young, gay and vibrant diamond in the ruff with colorful inhabitants equally committed to nurturing what they all must have known was a special place – their place – and now, our place,” recalls Brian Riordan.
“Coming back as a gay adult to the island in the early 90’s was such a wonderful experience as well. Sadly, Uncle Bill (Riordan) passed away but it was so wonderful to reconnect with Uncle Ang again and it meant so much for Ang to have part of Bill’s family there again. They were together for 48 years before Bill passed and Ang misses him so much, as we all do. Jeffrey fell in love with the island and has been there ever since. Always a smile and plenty of conversation, one can usually see him sprinting down the boulevard in a rush but always taking the time to have a quick or long conversation with the many friends that he has made these past twenty years as a definite fixture and true member of that community. My big brother is well loved in the Pines and I have been witness to the love that he returns to others.” Brian Riordan. Pictured Brian, friend George, and Jeffrey. Picture courtesy Brian Riordan.
The love affair that began in the early 1950’s between Bill Riordan and Angelo Bosica has come full circle with two of their nephews, Brian and Jeffrey, not only becoming part of the Pines’ family but also contributing to its history.
“As a result of job demands these days, I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like in the Pines and perhaps that is where I’ll meet my life partner. It would somehow seem fitting if that was to take place in my beloved haven, but for the time being I will continue to be single and let the Pines be my significant other. I consider myself extremely lucky to have shared so many wonderful times there. Whenever I step off that ferry, on the occasions when I can visit, I feel that I have arrived at a place of inner peace and joy that I’ve rarely experienced anywhere else. It continues to be the best place for me! Thank you for letting me share my story with you.” Brian Riordan. Pictured Brian and Jeffrey Riordan. Picture courtesy Brian Riordan.
Angelo Bosica passed away early June 2016 at 94. RIP.