Love Story: Pat and Dom Zeolla, Ronkonkoma
Pat and Dom Zeolla of Ronkonkoma didn't need words to form a lasting connection. Pat recalls their courtship.
My friends and I were at an Italian Club dance one evening in 1961. It was in the auditorium of my parish church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in the Arthur Avenue section of the Bronx. I was 18. We were all having a great time when this good-looking guy came over and asked me to dance. His name was Dom and he was 21.
As we danced I realized he did not know English; he was speaking Italian. Somehow we were able to communicate with each other using gestures. Dom's cousin, who had talked him into going to the dance, was there and helped interpret a bit, but for the most part we understood each other. Dom worked in construction and took English classes at night. He and his sister sailed to New York from Italy in 1955 to join their father. His mother stayed behind, but she did eventually come to New York.
I did not speak Italian, even though my grandparents were from Italy and my mother spoke the language. Many English words, like telephone, are similar to those in Italian, so I understood when Dom asked for my phone number at the end of the night. I gave it to him and he called a week later. Dom asked his cousin to listen in on the conversation and translate for him as needed, and we made plans to see a movie.
Dom lived about 10 blocks from my house and walked over to pick me up for the date. I don't remember what we saw, but Dom favored action movies. There wasn't much dialogue, which made it easier for him to follow. As we continued dating, my mother would translate for us when he came to the house, and I began helping him with his English. It wasn't long before we were talking about marriage.
We wed at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Church, presided over by our pastor, Bishop Pernicone, on Sept. 7, 1963. We lived in the Bronx for 91/2 years, then moved to Ronkonkoma in 1973. Dom became a tool-and-die maker and retired in 2000 from Lumex in Bay Shore. He enjoys working in his vegetable garden. Until 2000, I worked as a line coordinator at Whitman Packaging, an Estée Lauder facility, in Hauppauge.
We have two sons, two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren. On Sept. 7 we celebrated our 50th anniversary with all our close family and friends at Villa Lombardi's in Holbrook. We went to Montauk, our favorite vacation spot, for several days. It was a gift from our family, and we really enjoyed ourselves.