OSSINING, N.Y. – Ossining’s Herb Zelman said he remembers exactly what went through his mind the first time he saw a picture of his wife more than 63 years ago.
“When I saw her picture for the first time I said this is a picture I don’t want to let go of,” Herb said while reminiscing at the Atria On The Hudson in Ossining. “Great girls were few and far between in the neighborhood I grew up in so I had to get to know this girl.”
It was late 1949 and Herb was spending time in Atlantic City with his parents when a friend of theirs showed them a picture of their daughter Belle. Soon after, Herb asked Belle out on a date – and then another and another. Belle said she had been dating other men at the time but none of them measured up to who she was looking for in a husband.
“I became insistent and had to ask for another date,” Herb said. “I told her I didn’t want her to go out with anyone else and 10 weeks later we were engaged.”
Bell said she wasn’t sure he was the right one until Herb “put his foot down” and said he didn’t want her seeing anyone else.
“I had boyfriends to go out with every weekend and he kept cutting me out of every date I could have so I had no time to go out with anyone else,” Belle said. “I had a list, and I still have it, of what was required of a proper husband. I would write it down while I was in college. He had to be a college graduate and he had to be tall. And he had all of these things.”
The couple said they've had their ups and downs, but Herb and Belle said there are a few key tips they tell everyone to make sure they’re in a long-lasting relationship.
“Everyone I know who is getting married, I tell all of the girls not to ever let their husbands get angry with them,” Belle said. “Don’t make them angry and make sure there is always respect between you.”
“The secret to a long lasting marriage is respect, honesty and of course love,” Herb said, adding that laughter is a good one to add. “There’s an old line I like to use. We’ve been married almost 63 years and I have to tell you, 28 have been really happy.”