Not at First Sight, but It Was Definitely Love

November 25, 2001

Dennis Scauso was the kind of boy next door who wouldn't give his pesky neighbor girl the time of day -- that is until 20 years later, when he married her.

A change in careers for Scauso and a family crisis for his future wife, Janlyn, reunited the two in their childhood Commack neighborhood not more than a decade ago.

It was then that Scauso fell in love with the same little girl who used to spy on him as he tossed the football with her older brothers in the back yard or fixed up cars in his driveway.

"I had a crush on him," said Janlyn Scauso, 39. "But I just never thought it was returned until we were older."

Scauso, 46, a New York City firefighter who was part of the Hazardous Materials Company No. 1 in Maspeth, was in Tower Two Sept. 11 when it collapsed. He is among the missing.

Scauso graduated from Commack South High School and worked his way through aeronautical school in Daytona Beach, Fla. He was a bartender, a construction worker and a mechanic, among other jobs, until he became a pilot.

He flew for Ozark Airlines and TWA, but it was difficult to find steady work. So he moved around the country piloting chartered flights where he could.

Eventually, he returned to Long Island to his parents' home in Commack while he became a firefighter.

It was then that Janlyn's father fell ill. She returned home to tend to her father for several months. Scauso noticed her Monte Carlo SS had been damaged in an accident. He decided he would work on it for free. He fixed the car and married her.

His wife remembers a husband who loved his four children, Darcie, 13, Donny, 12, Gabrielle, 6, and Juliette, 4, and who loved to fix things, who liked to have as many people as possible around the dinner table and who cared for animals.

Last year he was helping build an extension on the family's Dix Hills home and noticed a dozen salamanders crawling around in a pool of tar. He gingerly picked the tiny creatures out of the goop and cleaned them. He called a friend who works at the Bronx Zoo for advice about where to set them free.

His wife last spoke to her husband on Sept. 11, before the buildings collapsed. "I said to him like I do every time, 'You're my everything, the air I breathe and the reason I wake up in the morning.' He said, 'Right back at ya.'

"And that was the last time I talked to him."

A wake will be held today from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Huntington Manor Fire House, 1650 New York Ave., in Huntington Station. A memorial service will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. at St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church, 175 Wolf Hill Rd., in Melville.

-- Dionne Searcey (Newsday)