Written by Ronald Scaglia, Rscaglia@antonnews.com Friday, 15 February 2013 00:00
What is the secret to a long and happy marriage? For two Massapequa couples, the answer is, at least partially, both fate and faith. Grace and William Smith will mark their 63rd wedding anniversary this April, while Angela and Fred Esposito have been married for 61 years.
Both couples were invited and scheduled to attend a special Valentine’s Day reception hosted by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. This is significant as Valentine’s Day holds a special meaning for the Espositos. Their romance began at a Valentine’s Day dance in 1945.
“I wanted to dance with Angela but she wouldn’t,” recalls Fred about how he and the love of his life actually got of to a bad start.
Angela and Fred met through their church’s religious instruction program, which was also hosting the dance. Angela, who was a hostess at the event, was responsible for getting the boys to dance. When she tried ushering Fred to the dance floor, Fred was only interested in dancing with one girl – Angela. However, Angela was too busy being the hostess and didn’t dance with Fred. Had Fred not been persistent, the special romance may not have blossomed.
Eventually, Fred did convince Angela to agree to meet him at a local ice cream parlor. The unhappy start to their romance continued when Angela became ill and did not keep the date.
“I stood him up,” she recalls with a chuckle. “There were no cell phones back then.”
However, Fred and Angela were destined to be together, so fate worked its magic and one day Angela walked into the same ice cream parlor, and lo and behold, there was Fred. She explained what happened and Fred was smitten enough to ask for another date. The rest is history. Sixty-seven years, four children and 14 grandchildren later, Fred and Angela remain as much in love as they have ever been.
“I don’t even remember not knowing him,” Angela says of the boy she initially stood up.
Fate also intervened for the Smiths. Grace and her sister were on a train coming home from the beach when a young man and his friends boarded and took a seat directly across from the young ladies. Bill asked Grace for a cigarette and at the end of the ride, asked for her phone number.
“I didn’t hear from him for about three months,” Grace recounts.
Bill had lost her number. However, as fate would have it, Bill’s friend had scratched her number on his pipe, and three months later, Bill saw it as he and his friend were each having a slice of pizza. So, Bill made a phone call.
“That’s the beginning of 62 years of marital bliss,” he says. “It was a chance meeting. It was a chance phone call.” The Smiths have two daughters, four grandchildren and are expecting their first great-grandchild this year.
So what do both long-time happily married couples have in common? For one thing, they both say that even the best marriages have rocky moments, and both couples say their marriages have had moments of disagreement.
“We bicker over little stuff,” says Angela.
“I think every marriage needs a little help,” says Grace, who added that she and Bill sought out help from a marriage counselor more than once during their long marriage. “It helped. We went and then we stopped and we had problems and we went back. You definitely have to work at marriage. You just don’t sit back and get married and say that’s it.”
Another thing they share is a strong sense of faith. Both couples are long-time parishioners of St. William the Abbot Church and Grace is a lector there, among the other activities she is involved with.
“Being faith filled people helped us in our marriage,” she says.
Another trait they share is being residents of Massapequa for many, many years. Both couples say that when they were looking for a house, they didn’t start out in Massapequa, but just as the couples found their way to each other; they also found their way to a place they would settle down in for a long time.
“I love Massapequa,” says Angela. “It’s a great place to bring up children.”
Something else they both have in common is a positive outlook on marriage. When asked if they would do it again, both couples emphatically said they would and advise those who are single to find their significant other so they can enjoy the same happiness that they have.
“Get married,” Fred advises those who haven’t dived into marital waters. “Respect each other and try not to hurt each other’s feeling,” he adds is the secret to making a marriage work for such a long time.
“It’s a more rounded life,” adds Angela.