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A Valentine's Romance That's Lasted 40 Years

Peter Vincelli and Mary Beinert were high school sweethearts in Brooklyn in the 1960s. They fell in love when they met 40 years ago this week — on Valentine's Day.

"We made out for about 2 1/2 hours a block up from where she lived. It was love at first sight, no question about it," Peter Vincelli says.

But Mary Vincelli had a different take. "Well, for me, it wasn't love at first sight. For me, love at first kiss, not at first sight."

The couple dated throughout high school, although Mary says they broke up maybe twice. They argued about "stupid nonsense, like 'You talked to Lucille. Why were you talking to her?' or I was just fed up with him," she says.

But the two say they were serious, even before they learned Mary was pregnant.

When asked how he felt when he found out, Peter Vincelli says simply, "Shocked."

"You were 17 years old," Mary says. "Like, how do you not freak out at that time? It was 'You're pregnant, you're getting married, done."

Peter recalls telling his father he wanted to get married. "Well, Mommy said, 'Sit down,' and he said, 'Don't sit down, you're not allowed to sit down in this house.' You know, he was pretty mad at this point, which is understandable."

Mary adds, "My father said, 'You are not marrying my daughter until after she has that baby. You are never going to be able to say that you had to marry her, because you don't. We will take care of her.'"

"I was not exactly the most stand-up person at that time," Peter continues, "but I said, 'Look, I want to marry her, and that's it.'"

Mary says the two were so young, they didn't know what was ahead of them. "We had no clue," she says.

They were married in November 1970, three months after their daughter was born.

When asked his favorite thing about his wife, Peter says, "Then, it was her long hair — beautiful. Her smile. Now, her strength — has always been, now and then."

Mary says, "I don't dare say that he's funny because I'm always saying that he's not funny. I think that he really is a very, very caring guy, and I know through all of it that he truly loved me. That I know for sure."

"I always did love her," Peter says.

Produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.