Carmine Vozzolo of Hicksville recalls how he kept a childhood promise to his future wife, Silvana.
If you ask me or my wife, Silvana, how we met, the answer would be, "We've known each other all our lives."
It's true. We grew up less than 100 yards from each other in the small town of Castelforte in southern Italy. We, along with our siblings, played together, farmed together and went to school together. We said we'd always be together.
But in 1959, when I was 10 and she was 11, my family emigrated to the United States. However, before leaving, I promised Silvana that I would come back to marry her one day.
Settling in Corona, Queens, I went to school and learned English. In 1965 I became a barber and worked in Manhattan. But I never forgot about my childhood sweetheart.
In 1966, when I was 18, I made good on my promise. I took a flight back to Italy and proposed to Silvana, whom I hadn't seen in seven years. The only contact we had was through our parents' letters.
Silvana, who had spent the past several years working on her family's farm, was happy and excited by the proposal. And despite never having left her hometown, she agreed to my bold idea of getting married and moving back with me to the United States.
We were wed in a civil ceremony in Italy. I returned home to New York, and Silvana joined me a few months later after she was granted a visa. She lived with my sister until we were married in a second ceremony on April 2, 1967, at St. Leo's Church in Corona. My younger brother was my best man. Since Silvana's immediate family was in Italy, her cousin was her maid of honor and an uncle walked her down the aisle.
Our reception was at Tufaro's in Corona, and we honeymooned at Cove Haven in the Poconos, where we often return to celebrate anniversaries.
We lived in an apartment in my parents' house until 1978, when we were finally able to buy our own home. We moved to Hicksville, where I owned a small hair salon. Silvana got her cosmetology license and began working alongside me. Today we work together at Kimera Salon in Jericho, which we have co-owned for more than 20 years with our oldest son and his wife.
We have returned several times to Italy to visit relatives who still live there. This year we will be celebrating our 45th anniversary with a family vacation with our two sons and daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren.