Joseph Marmo of Coram recalls his courtship with Rosalie, his wife of 60 years.
I have known my wife, the former Rosalie Piazza, just about all my life. We grew up in East New York, Brooklyn, a few blocks apart. Our lives intertwined almost daily. We had the same friends and played on the same streets. I can’t pinpoint the moment we fell in love, but it had to be sometime when we began walking to PS 213 together with the other neighborhood kids, laughing and joking with each other, not really knowing what was happening between us.
It wasn’t until she moved with her family to Jamaica Estates, Queens, in 1947 that I realized something was missing in my life. We were 14. As luck would have it, I’d see her most weekends when she and her family would come back to visit relatives.
When we were 16, Rosalie called me on the phone during one of those visits and asked to see me. We spent the afternoon together talking. She went to Jamaica High School and I attended East New York Vocational High School.
I now realized what was missing — it was this wonderful person. We began keeping company, and I spent the next three years traveling by train and bus between Brooklyn and Queens to see her. When I was 18, I got the courage to ask her whether she could ever consider marrying me and, much to my surprise, she replied, “What took you so long to ask?”
We were wed on Nov. 16, 1957, at St. Anthony’s Church in Ozone Park and spent our honeymoon in Bermuda. When we returned, we lived with Rosalie’s parents and, within a week, her mother handed me a letter with greetings from Uncle Sam. Two days later I was at the Army base in Fort Dix, New Jersey.
As it turned out, going into the Army at that point in my life was a blessing in disguise. I was sent to Germany with the 37th Tank Battalion and assigned to headquarters staff as a driver. While there, I hit the books, earned my high school diploma and got my life on track. Rosalie was back home working as a bookkeeper for Randolph and Rand Corp. and saving up for an apartment for us.
When I returned home in 1959, this wonderful woman had signed me up for the next New York Police Department test. I passed it and had a great 20-year career with New York’s Finest. I retired in 1981 from the 113th Precinct’s warrant squad in South Jamaica. I then worked hotel corporate security for Air France in Manhattan until 1989.
Rosalie became a full-time homemaker and mother. We have three great children and four super grandchildren. She later worked in the jewelry inventory control department at Fortunoff in Westbury from 1975 to 2007. We moved to our home in Coram in 2000.
We celebrated our 60th anniversary a year early in 2016 by taking our entire family on a cruise to Bermuda.
To this day, I still can’t figure out what she saw in a Brooklyn street guy with no immediate future, little education and not a dime in my pocket. But I thank the powers that be that she said yes. Life has been hard, but I was lucky to have this great woman beside me. All in all, it has been one hell of a ride.
— With Virginia Dunleavy