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Love Story: He fell for her while playing the piano

Minna and Joe Perlow, seen in a photo

Minna and Joe Perlow, seen in a photo taken in summer 2019, will celebrate their 70th anniversary this year. Credit: Edward Perlow

Joe Perlow of East Meadow talks about meeting his wife, Minna.

Back in my late teens I lived with my family in Laurelton, Queens, and was a musician in a band. One day in October 1946 our drummer, Mark Gutchen, said he had a date with Minna Rosen at her house in Laurelton. He said she had a baby grand piano and asked if I would come along and play some "mood" music while they socialized. Though the piano wasn’t my best instrument, I agreed to tickle the ivory for him.

While Mark and Minna were busy chatting on the couch, I played the piano. After many choruses of playing "I'm in the Mood for Love" and Cole Porter hits, I realized I was becoming interested in Minna. While leaving, I whispered to Mark, "Mind if I ask her out?" He said, "Be my guest."

I asked Minna to go with me for ice cream that Saturday. She said, “Sure!” Sport that I am, I knew a great ice cream joint called Jan's that would give anyone whose birthday it was that day a free sundae — and my birthday happened to be the day of our date. It went great. We had so much in common. Minna, a violinist, was concert mistress of the Andrew Jackson High School concert orchestra, and I was in the dance band and marching band. Our parents knew one another, and we had a bunch of mutual friends.

A few weeks later we started “going steady.”

Minna went to Adelphi University School of Nursing, but unfortunately developed allergies to alcohol, iodine and adhesive tape, and was forced to drop out. Despite my interest in music I graduated with a bachelor of arts in business administration from Adelphi University.

Shortly after I graduated, I asked Minna to marry me and she said yes. We were married Dec. 26, 1949, at The Great Northern Hotel in Manhattan. Minna went to work as a unit clerk in the emergency room at South Nassau Communities Hospital. My thoughts of a full-time music career came to a sudden end six weeks after our wedding when my dad died unexpectedly. He had owned a menswear store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, so I became a retailer during the week and played gigs on weekends, something I did for 40 years.

Minna and I lived in Oceanside, where we welcomed our two daughters and a son. They all played musical instruments but have professional careers in teaching, occupational therapy and dentistry. My daughter who is a teacher is retired, and the one who is an occupational therapist will retire next year. Our son, a dentist, specializes in treating special needs patients. We have six grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.

Minna and I retired in 1990. I have played in a host of bands and orchestras — The Palm Beach Symphonic Band, The Royal Palm Beach Concert Band, The Gold Coast Concert Band, Memories of Swing Dance Band, Farmingdale Pops, Seaford Community Band, and recently The Freeport Community Band.

I’ve also been a volunteer messenger for 29 years at South Nassau Communities Hospital, now called Mount Sinai South Nassau. It keeps me moving! Minna volunteered for about five years as a supervisor in the Oceanside elementary school lunchroom — not an easy job.

God has been very good to us. Minna and I have been together 73 years and married for 70 years.

We’ve traveled extensively over the years. We have plans to celebrate our 70th wedding anniversary at City Cellar Wine Bar & Grill in Westbury. Guests will be coming from near and far to help us celebrate.

— With Ann Donahue-Smukler

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Access the online form at newsday.com/lilovestory — or send an anecdote along with your phone number and a photo to Love Story, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, N.Y. 11747; or email ann.smukler@newsday.com, or call Ann Donahue-Smukler at 631-843- 2520. Publication is not guaranteed. Photos cannot be returned and may be used in other publications affiliated with Newsday.

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