If not for a game of Ping-Pong, Harriett and Sandy Krasky might never have met.
In the early 1940s, while he was a student at what was then Newark College of Engineering (now New Jersey Institute of Technology), Sandy had been invited by his cousin, a student at Rutgers College of Pharmacy (now Rutgers’ School of Pharmacy, then in Newark), to play a game of table tennis.
While they were playing, the cousins decided to go on to attend a college basketball game where Harriett Opperman, a cheerleader and student at a junior college in Newark, caught Sandy’s eye.
After the game, said Sandy, who is now 96, there was dancing. “I approached Harriett and asked her to dance,” he said, thus beginning a romance that is still going strong three-quarters of a century later.
The couple, both Newark natives, celebrated their 75th anniversary on Aug. 5 with a party at the Martin and Edith Stein Assisted Living Residence on the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living in Somerset, where they now live.
The party was attended by close to 50 family members and other residents — in stark contrast to the couple’s wedding.
In 1943, Harriett, a Weequahic High School graduate, and Sandy, a graduate of South Side High School (now Malcolm X Shabazz High School), were in Florida. Harriett was staying with her aunt and uncle while visiting Sandy, who was attending the U.S. Army Air Corps navigation school in Coral Gables. When he got his orders to transfer to Chicago, Harriett wanted to go with him, “but in those days to do that you had to be married,” she laughed.
“It was during the war, so we didn’t have a wedding,” said Harriett, who is 94. “He had just got his commission as a second lieutenant. On Aug. 4, they had a big parade. The next day we were married, and on Aug. 6 he shipped out. We had a one-day honeymoon.”
The wedding, officiated by an Army chaplain, took place at the Cadillac Hotel in Miami Beach; neither his nor her parents attended the hastily arranged ceremony.
After Sandy was discharged, he attended Rutgers-Newark and earned a degree in management; he went on to have a long career in business. Harriett worked in the retail industry. The couple lived in Irvington, Union, and Clark before moving to an adult community in Manchester Township, then to the Stein residence about two years ago.
They have a daughter, Paula Masciulli of Monroe Township, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Masciulli, president of the foundation of the Wilf campus, is a former president of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick and a former board member of what is now the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey. It was her parents, she said, who instilled in her a deep commitment to the Jewish community.
Masciulli said the achievement of being married 75 years was driven home to her when she went to buy her parents an anniversary card.
“I went to three stores and couldn’t find one for a 75th anniversary,” she said. “I remember telling people when we had their 70th anniversary party that most of them will never in their lives attend an event like that, celebrating a 70th anniversary — and here we are at 75.”
Masciulli said her parents’ marriage has more than stood the test of time. “After all these years they still really love each other,” she said. “They still walk together holding hands.”
The happy couple had some thoughts on the formula for the success of their long and happy union.
Harriett’s advice is “Never go to bed angry.”
“We both compromised and did not go to sleep angry,” Sandy said, but, he added, “in the end I learned sometimes not to compromise, but to capitulate.”