76 Years Later

Photo: Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos/New York Magazine

How did you two meet?
Tom, 100: My buddies and I used to visit a church dance in the Bronx to meet girls. When I first saw Nina in 1934, one look was all I needed. She was so beautiful, and she had a funny accent. I said, “What part of England do you come from?” And she says, “Italy.”

Did you know right then you were going to be married?
Nina, 99: You can’t know these things. We just fell in love.
Tom: But there were lots of obstacles. Her family didn’t have a phone, so in 1935 I took the Greyhound bus—it cost a dollar and a half—from the Bronx to where she lived in New Haven to find her. She was sick that day, so we didn’t see each other until I tried again later that year.

That’s tenacity.
Tom: No one interested me other than Nina.
Nina: On New Year’s Eve, I sent him a telegram to say happy New Year. That was a very daring thing for me to do.
Tom: When my future father-in-law asked me what my intentions were, I turned beet red and finally stammered, “Tell Nina we’ll get married in a year and a half.” I kept that promise.

So what’s the secret to making a marriage last so long?
Nina: We love each other. We have friends all around us, plus 5 children, 13 grandchildren, and 23 greats.
Tom: Family is number one. Also, Nina’s a wonderful cook of Mediterranean food.

What advice do you have for newlyweds?
Tom: You have to give in at times. If you’re wrong, admit it and make amends.

How many fights do you think you’ve had in all these decades?
Nina: Almost none.
Tom: We forget about them before they start.

That’s incredible.
Tom: We tell each other that we love each other many times a week. We kiss every night before we go to bed.

You never get tired of the same ol,’ same ol’?
Nina: Why should we? We love each other forever.

76 Years Later