Michele Morgenstein


I am a hopeless, dyed-in-the-wool romantic. My love affair with my wife, Michele, began forty years ago when, at the tender age of 13, I asked her to go steady at a Friday night party at a friend's home. The date, to be exact, was January 27, 1967. Shy as I was then (and I might add, continue to be to this day) and considering the fact that this was my first 'serious' courtship, the circumstances surrounding the actual formalities of asking Michele to go steady were quite amusing. With the moment of truth closing in, and my shyness getting the better of me, a girl 'friend' of ours stepped in to save the day. As the three of us sat on the steps that led from the entryway of the high ranch home to the downstairs party room, and as I sat frozen and terrified in suspended animation, our friend, Susan, unlatched my ID bracelet from my wrist and placed it on Michele's wrist. By the way, ID bracelets were our generation's choice of jewelry signifying commitment. The formalities dispensed with, we were now officially 'going steady'!

The courtship lasted five and a half months, pretty good stats for an 8th grade couple. But Michele did, in fact, inform me years later, with a playful grin, that I was perhaps the 'worst boyfriend she ever had'! Seems all I ever wanted to do was meet at weekend parties and go into the 'couples make-out room' to smooch, whereas her other boyfriends were real gentlemen who would romance her, sweep her off her feet for a date at the movies, ice skating rink, or bowling alley. But I digress...

For the two months following our break-up, I could tell that Michele was still hung up on me, hoping for a turn of events that would bring us back together. But I, foolishly, played hard to get. To make a long story short, she eventually moved on and spent the next five years in two, serious long-term relationships. I, on the other hand, spent every moment pining away for her, praying for the day she would come to her senses and realize that I was her one, true love. That moment of realization came on Memorial Day weekend in May 1972, and I was back in the saddle with the girl of my dreams. This storybook romance has its usual twists and turns; however, they are not the focus of this story.

Michele and I were married at the Crest Hollow Country Club on Long Island, New York on her birthday, December 13, 1981. She was the most beautiful bride I had ever seen. And she was MY bride!

As the years passed, I had never forgotten that special day back in January '67 when I (well it was really our friend Susan) asked Michele to go steady. And as the day approached some thirty years later, I thought about how incredible it would be to recreate that moment (sans Susan) in the exact location that it originally had taken place decades ago. What I thought initially to be a simple process turned into a multi-faceted journey, although a wonderfully enjoyable one at that. First off, of course, I remembered the town where the party was held, as it was in the town Michele and I grew up in; Plainview, New York. However, I could not remember where the house was located. Added to this was the fact that, the friend at whose home the party was held, Louie Price, had moved away by 1969. And so began my journey.

First stop was my Alma Maters, Mattlin Junior High and Kennedy High School, where school officials suggested I try the Administrative Offices on the other side of town. Once there, I was informed that they had no information on one 'Louis Price' and directed me to the local public library to check out a 1967 phone book, assuming they had one. Unfortunately, I was out of luck, as the Plainview Public Library did not have vintage phone books. Nor did they know if one even existed. But a woman behind the desk sympathetic to my noble plight gave me a phone list of all the libraries located on Long Island, suggesting that perhaps one of them may have archives containing phone books from the 60's.

Several phone calls in, I hit gold! Excitedly, I raced to the East Meadow Library, a town approximately thirty minutes drive from Plainview. When I arrived, I waited with abated breath by a small crank elevator, reminiscent of the old style dumb-waiters. Within several minutes, before my very eyes, a dusty, old 1967 phone book appeared from deep within the bowels of the East Meadow Library. The book listed many 'Price's' throughout Nassau County. So, pencil in hand, I scanned the page and jotted down the handful of names that had Plainview addresses. I raced back to Plainview, straight to a gas station, to check a local map and chart out all of Plainview's 'Price' family addresses.

I drove around town to the different locations and stopped dead in my tracks when I knew I had found the house I had been looking for. Memories began to flood my brain. However, I could not be 100% sure until the front door would be opened and I could peer in to see those special steps leading from the entry foyer of the high ranch to the party room below to the right.

I walked up to the front door and, with great anticipation, rang the bell. With that, a young child spoke nervously from behind the closed door, informing this strange man (me) that his mother wasn't home. He was not about to open the door for a stranger that I, of course, understood. But I was so eager to see those stairs to confirm my belief that this was, in fact, Louie Price's home. What to do next? Against my better judgment, I opened the mailbox next to the front door to see if the day's mail had been delivered, in order to get the occupant's last name. (I wonder if that is a crime?) Either way, I was in luck. So I planted the family's name firmly in my brain and raced home to call information for a phone number, praying that it was not an unlisted number. Lucky again! I waited several hours before making the call.

Heart pounding, the woman of the house answered the phone, and asked if I was the gentleman her son had told her about. I told her I was, and explained the situation. 'I would love to surprise my wife, Michele, and recreate the moment I had asked her to go steady thirty years ago, in the exact spot in which it took place'. The woman was so taken with my plight that she responded with a resounding 'YES'! My secret plan was set in motion.

Sunday morning, January 26, 1997, one day shy of exactly thirty years to the day, I secretly placed the original ID bracelet in my coat pocket, and told Michele we were going on a mystery drive. Seeing that I was not responding to her inquiry as to what this was all about, she willingly got into the car anyway, and we were on our way.

A picture is, without a doubt, worth a thousand words. When we turned into the neighborhood and then pulled to a stop in front of Louie Price's former home, Michele's eyes could have lit up the world! She knew exactly where we were. The woman answered the door with open arms. Actually, she was on the phone with a friend in Florida, telling her the story of the couple who were about to descend on her home. When she hung up, her first words to us were, 'This is so romantic', quickly followed with, 'My husband is a dead man'!

Homerun! The stairs were exactly as we remembered them.

With that, Michele and I took our places on those magical stairs, original ID bracelet firmly planted on her outstretched left hand. The woman focused the camera, and.....click. This life-changing event, which originally had taken place three decades earlier on January 27, 1967, was recreating itself right before our very eyes. This moment, of deeply profound importance to me, will be etched in my memory for all eternity.

It is with overwhelming sadness that I have to conclude this story with Michele's passing on December 10, 2005 after a 22-year valiant battle against breast cancer. Michele was a warrior's warrior throughout the ongoing trials and tribulations of this sometimes all-encompassing illness. With it all, our life together was nothing short of magical, having learned many years ago to 'smell the roses', live in the moment, take nothing for granted, and treasure every moment we have on earth. She was my soul mate bar none, whose spirit will continue to live on in the hearts of the countless people whose lives she has touched so profoundly.

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