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'!
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...
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
The stairs were exactly as we remembered them.
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.
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.