"How I Met My Spouse..."
With Valentine's Day and affairs of the heart upon us, correspondent David Culver asked some of the residents of Plush Mills to reflect on how they first met their spouses. Their answers appeared in the Delaware County Daily Times.
• Lillian Fiorelli (age 83) – I first met my husband Frank when I was 18. I was coming home after a dance at Chez Vous, a dance hall and bowling alley on 69th Street in Upper Darby. Jerry Blavat performed there in the 1960s. My girlfriend and I left the dance and were waiting to take a bus to my house in Lansdowne. That’s when two boys – a friend of my girlfriend’s and his friend, Frank – met us. We talked for a bit, but I said I had to get home; my dad was very strict. So, the boys came with us; they paid for our bus fare; and we asked them to come in for coffee. Dad would have been upset if I was outside talking to a strange boy. So, we had coffee, and Frank said he’d like to ask me out. The next week, he invited me to a movie. After that, he’d call me every night. My father wanted to know who I was talking to. “I want to make sure this one’s OK,” he said. “Remember – the last one (a previous boy I dated) didn’t work out so well.”
Frank and I dated for about a year, and when we talked about getting married, I told Frank, “You’ll have to ask dad for permission, and he will insist that you have a job.” Frank didn’t have a steady job; he worked a lot of odd jobs. When Frank asked my dad for permission to marry, dad said yes. And, dad told me, “Don’t worry about his getting a job. I’ll get him one.” And he did, at his brother’s paint store. My dad liked Frank. He especially liked that he was Italian. So were we. My maiden name is Rizzo.
• Carl Smith (87) – My wife Jill (89) and I were both living in Yeadon. I was going to Penn. One night, in 1957, I was studying and I decided to go to a local bar, Ricci’s Tavern in Fernwood, for a drink. A friend of mine was the bartender. Jill came in with a couple of friends, and my friend, the bartender, and I commented on how nice the girls looked. My friend asked me if I wanted to meet them, and I said, “No, I don’t think I want to do that.” I wasn’t very forward. But later, I decided I wanted to dance with Jill. So, I asked her to dance and she said yes. When the song was over, she said, “Now you have to dance with my girlfriend, because she really wants to meet you.” Well, I was more interested in Jill, and when it came time for us to leave, I volunteered to drive all the girls home – and I arranged to take Jill home last.
Our first real date was getting pizza at Fasciola’s in Clifton Heights. We dated for less than a year before I decided I wanted to marry her. Jill said she was surprised – that she didn’t expect my proposal. I guess I didn’t exactly sweep her off her feet. But, when I proposed, she said yes. I didn’t ask her father for permission to marry her. I spoke with him after I proposed and told him we planned to get married. It worked out fine; her parents were very happy for us.
• Connie Saddic (80) – My family had just moved from North Philly to South Philly. One of my new neighborhood girlfriends invited me over for dinner one night, and I met her brother, Louis, who was much older than I. I was 18 and working at a beauty shop; he was 35, working at Westinghouse. I thought he was very handsome – but I figured he thought I was too young and giddy. But, the next day, he “pretended” to be walking in the neighborhood where I worked and he stopped in. Today, they would call that stalking. He took me out for a cup of coffee at a local diner, and then the next week he took me out to a movie – one of those gladiator movies that were popular at the time. After that, we dated for six or seven months.
When Louis decided to ask my dad for my hand, he took him to a bar. They both had a beer and Louis asked dad for his permission. Dad said yes even though both he and Mom thought Louis was too old for me, especially mom. I was the oldest child in our family, and mom wanted me to stay home longer – until I was 20 or 21. But, my parents really liked Louis, and we got married when I was still 18.
We set a goal for ourselves to work as hard as we could and save as much money as we could so we could be comfortable later on. We didn’t have much money at first, so we waited to have children. After 10 years of marriage we bought a bar near Essington – and then another and another. We started our family after 10 years of marriage, and after 20 years we finally felt comfortable – and we considered ourselves to be successful.
• Berni DeCampli (89) – I refer to my husband, William, as my knight in shining armor. The first time I met him was in 1947 when I was 18, just starting college at West Chester State Teachers College. I was in The Pig, a luncheonette that was a hangout for students. A bothersome, obnoxious guy was hitting on me. William was at The Pig, too. He had entered the Navy right out of high school and was just starting school at West Chester. He saw that I didn’t want to talk to this guy, so he came over and said “Can’t you see she doesn’t want to be bothered.” So, the guy left – and William kept “bothering” me the rest of my life. He was so handsome, and we just fell for each other almost immediately. He stayed at the table, and that was essentially our first date. We soon starting sending each other love notes; I couldn’t wait to get to my campus mailbox to read the next one. We kept dating for about three years and got married in 1950. We were married for 61 years until William died in 2011.
William was a very quiet person; he generally only talked when he had something important to say. He was kind and genteel, but he had a very strong will – like that day he rescued me at The Pig.
• Norton German (85) – I was a student living in New York City and had been to a Broadway Show by myself. After the show I went to a Horn & Hardart automat – you know, those cafeterias where you’d put a nickel or dime in a slot to get a sandwich or pie behind small glass windows. Well, this beautiful blonde (Judith) came in to eat, and she was having trouble operating the windows. So, I went over, introduced myself, and helped her get the glass window open. We sat down and had our sandwiches and sodas together. We were both living in the Bronx at the time: I was a student in the Bronx High School of Science and she was a third-grade teacher at a public school in Queens. I was 18 at the time, and I soon entered NYU as an undergraduate. We continued to date, but I didn’t have any money at the time, so getting married was out of the question. But, in my last year at NYU, I proposed to Judith, and we got married the month I graduated.
I entered the Army soon after we married in 1960. I was a career army man – 29 years – serving as a pathologist at military bases throughout the United States, Germany, Vietnam and Korea. Except for Vietnam and Korea, Judith was always with me. When I retired from the Army, I went into private practice in Akron, Ohio. Judith and I had a wonderful life together, but unfortunately she died in 1980 of cancer. She and our son and daughter were the best things that happened in my life. I was so fortunate to have met her. For these blessings I greatly thank the Lord. It was so wonderful to love and be loved in return.