Connie and Artie Versichelli, of Massapequa, have been together since they were teenagers. Connie recalls their first meeting.
When I was a junior at Massapequa High School in 1959, my best friend Ellen and I started going to Sunday afternoon dances at the American Legion Hall in Amityville. We'd take the bus from my house in Massapequa. At one of those dances, we heard about the 4M Club, a recreation center in Massapequa Park. It offered a variety of activities for teenagers, including Sunday dances that ran from 5 to 9 p.m.
We both begged our mothers to let us go to this dance. They finally agreed, but I had to be home by 9 p.m. sharp. Since the bus didn't go that way, Ellen talked her mother into driving us there.
At the 4M Club I noticed Artie dancing with a few of his friends. He was a great dancer, but he seemed a bit conceited. Ellen spotted some people with him she knew and walked over to say hello. I stayed behind with another group of friends. When she came back she told me that Artie thought I was cute and wanted her to introduce us. I said I wasn't interested.
Ellen and I continued to go to the 4M Club dances, and over the next couple of weeks I got to know Artie better and began to change my mind about him. So when he asked me on a date, I said yes. We saw a movie at the Amity Theater in the Inter-County Shopping Center on Carmans Road in South Farmingdale. We were inseparable from that day on and started going steady. Artie, 19, lived in Massapequa Park and had gone to Massapequa High School two years ahead of me.
He came to my Sweet Sixteen party the following January, and also took me to my junior and senior proms. Whenever I had to baby-sit my younger brother, Artie would come to the house to keep me company. My mother instructed my brother not to go to bed, and he would sit between us on the couch as we watched TV. He was our chaperone. Artie started calling me "sugar babe" after hearing the lead character on the TV show "The Real McCoys" refer to his wife by that name. It stuck, but over time it was shortened to "babe."
On Oct. 12, 1963, 31/2 years after we met, we were married at St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa. Artie and I feel very blessed to have two great children, a wonderful daughter-in-law and son-in-law and five terrific grandchildren. We recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends at Maggie's on Park in Massapequa Park.
Artie retired in 2011 as a retail manager with Burlington Coat Factory but went back part time. I work part time for Annie Sez in Plainview. When my granddaughter asked Artie why he calls me "babe," he replied, "Because Nana will always be my 'sugar babe.' "