When Selma tripped and sprained her ankle, Vito Tripi sprang to the rescue.
The handsome, dark-haired boy brought her bandages from the nearest drugstore and fixed her up. Then he took her for ice cream. When it was time to say goodnight, he asked, “So, I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“And I just kept asking her that over and over,” Tripi said. “We saw each other every day.”
Every day until Tripi joined the Army. When he came back on leave, they knew they had to make their move. “I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him,” she said.
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The young couple (he, 18; she, 17) eloped on Dec. 30, 1948. On New Year’s Day they told their families and “all hell broke loose,” he said. “It was beautiful.”
Vito is Catholic. Selma is Jewish. He’s an outdoorsman; she doesn’t care for nature. He’s Republican; she’s a Democrat.
But they stuck together through 67 years of marriage, five sons, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, and on Monday the couple renewed their vows at Palm Garden of Aventura.
The theme was “love is in the air.” Plastic rose petals were scattered over the linoleum floor, red ones wove throughout the bridal arch, and white ones strung the rows of chairs together. Fitting, the rabbi said, because Selma’s Hebrew name, Shoshanna, means rose. He blessed Selma before the ceremony.
The radiant bride was swathed in pearled and sequined lace, with a matching hat and skirt embroidered with rosebuds. She was pushed down the aisle by staffers from Palm Gardens wearing red dresses, but not before she stole one more kiss from Vito.
A pastor read their vows — giggling when he read the “speak now or forever hold your peace” line — and told the gathered crowd of friends, family, staffers and fellow Palm Garden residents that the Tripis’ love represented the best of humanity.
“If you want to find God, look at the people who pour love into each other,” the Rev. Jerry Kittredge said. “This is life. This is our charge.”
The pair were serenaded twice, by a volunteer and a staffer from Palm Gardens. During Larry Taylor’s rendition of The Way You Look Tonight, Vito reached down and squeezed his wife’s hand.
“He never misses a day visiting her,” said Zita Wilensky, life enrichment director of Palm Garden. “They’re true love.”
Wilensky was the magician behind the scenes. She made the bride’s dress, decorated for the ceremony, brought in the volunteer photographer and convinced J.R. Dunn, a jewelry company, to donate two 14k white gold wedding bands, engraved with “Love You Forever.”
Next to the wedding cake crumbs and half-full glasses of sparkling apple cider on the table sat a mirrored picture frame captioned “wedding day.”
It had space for two photos, one held a yellowed picture of the beaming young couple and one was empty, waiting for a picture from Monday.
“It took 67 years, but we got it done,” Kittredge said, laughing.