By Michael Morton
Although her husband, Daniel Pascale, said the years had gone by too quickly, she said they had still taken work. “It's love and faith and patience,” she said.
But without missing a beat, Michael Mazoff, standing nearby next to Ruth Mazoff, his wife of 54 years, chimed in: “And keep your mouth shut.”
Such was the scene at the Services Now for Adult Persons center on the grounds of Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital two days before Valentine's Day. While the love of the couples was evident, there were also plenty of one-liners and rolled eyeballs.
“One husband was just telling me he's been married 50 years and it's been the best eight years of his life,” said state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside), who has been married for eight years and who conducted the ceremony, which was unofficial since he is neither an ordained minister nor a justice of the peace.
Weprin was approached by the center four years ago to help honor couples who had been married 50 years or longer. He suggested that Valentine's Day would be a good time of the year to do so.
“It's really an invigorating ceremony because it renews your faith in love and marriage,” Weprin said.
Many of the 22 couples said they had participated in the event every year since its inception.
“She decided,” said Irving Kleiman, when asked why the couple originally opted to take part. Kleiman, president of the North Shore Lodge of the Knights of Pythias, part of a nationwide fraternal organization, said a friend introduced him to his future wife, Anita Kleiman, in 1947. Three years later, the weekend after she finished nursing school, the couple got married and moved to their house in Douglaston.
“First thing I would say is don't,” said Kleiman jokingly when asked for marriage advice. But then his wife said, “Just love each other.”
A sense of humor was one of the key ingredients cited by many of the couples, and it was on open display at the ceremony. A list of rules for a happy marriage posted on a door read in part, “Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire.” The participants also tossed off their own one-liners.
“I said I don't want to stand in line again, so I'm going to divorce him next year,” said Licia Servillo, referring to the annual wait to renew vows with her husband of 51 years, Patrick Servillo. The couple, who live in Queens Village, met at church, then got married between his getting his master's degree and shipping off for the Korean War.
“We assumed we were getting married,” Licia Servillo said.
“Besides, her father threatened me with violence,” Patrick Servillo replied as his wife shook her head.
For Sidney and Pearl Lann of Queens Village, 60 years of marriage has also meant staying focused and grateful for one another. The couple said they met when she babysat for a cousin of his and got married before he went to Europe for World War II. “She ended up babysitting for an old man,” said Sidney Lann, explaining that his wife is his junior.
The Pascales got married when both were 23, they said, years after meeting at her 16th birthday party at which he and his band played. While she said her father was strict when it came to boys, Marie Pascale declined to discuss how her future husband managed to court her.
“It's our love affair,” she said with a smile.
Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.