Camille Morselli of Islip Terrace recalls her long-distance courtship with husband Ben.
Our romance started when I was a senior at Copiague High School in 1960. I was walking to school one day, when a car pulled up. It was Ben Morselli. Our mothers had been working together at a local dress factory for many years and we, the Morselli and Dominici families, were very close.
Ben was on his way to work and asked if I wanted a ride. “Heck yeah,” I said. It was senior dress-down day at school and I was dressed “beatnik” style — short skirt, paisley blouse and little black flats. In the car, he asked me if I would like to go to Greenwich Village with him on a date sometime to see what beatniks were actually like and how they dressed. I said yes. I was 17 and he was 22.
Now coming from an Italian family with a strict father, I wasn’t allowed to date but, since it was Ben, my father made an exception. Actually, he loved Ben and would be very happy to see us together.
A week later, Ben took me to Manhattan. We stopped at several coffee houses and then walked to the Empire State Building. It was a nice evening and a very different experience for me.
We dated for several months, going to the movies or Gilgo Beach or for pizza with his friends. I knew nothing about love, relationships or commitment, and when Ben started getting serious, I broke it off with him. My parents were upset, but I wasn’t. I had graduated from high school by then and began dating other guys. I got a job at S. Klein on the Square in West Hempstead and later at MetLife in Massapequa. In 1961, Ben was drafted into the Army.
A year later, I received a letter from him. He was stationed on Oahu, Hawaii. I thought the letter was very funny and wrote back to him. He was a military police officer with the 524th MP Company and was sent to several different bases in the Pacific.
We continued corresponding and actually courted through the mail. Another year passed and we began discussing marriage. I was still unsure, but went ahead with engagement and wedding plans.
In October 1963, Ben was honorably discharged and he flew home. His parents and I met him at Idlewild Airport, now Kennedy Airport. I fell instantly in love with Ben. We got engaged in November, a week before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
We were married on July 18, 1964, at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Copiague, followed by a reception at Huntington Town House. It cost $9.95 per guest and included a cocktail hour and Viennese dessert buffet. We lived in Copiague until December 1967, when we purchased our home in Islip Terrace.
Ben retired in 2002 as an electronic technician with Lockheed Martin. I retired in 2003 as a secretary at East Islip High School. We have three children and four grandchildren.
In 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My husband was my caretaker from day one. Through five months of chemo, he was there every step of the way . . . in more ways than I ever imagined.
In 2014, we celebrated our 50th anniversary with a family trip to Mexico. In July, we marked our 54th anniversary and Ben’s 80th birthday with a nice, quiet dinner at a local restaurant. I am a breast cancer survivor, which is more of a reason to celebrate every day.
I have the best husband, friend and soul mate a woman can have. Ben is my gift from God, as God knew way back what it was I needed, and that was LOVE. Ben makes me laugh every day and he has dried my tears when necessary. He is always there for me no matter what. This is forever love.